On Sunday, August 21st, Ekal Vidyalaya - RTP Chapter, in collaboration with the Professional Indian Association, organized a 5k Walk-A-Thon at the verdant North Cary Park in Cary, North Carolina. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about and funds for non-formal schools that Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation operates in Indian villages
People of all ages, from high school students to retired seniors, came out to participate in this event and show their support for Ekal's mission of providing free education to underprivileged children of India. The event started with a brief introduction to Ekal by the President of Ekal - RTP Chapter, Mrs. Ragini Murarka. After the introduction, the participants were off and away on the Park's trail. Ekal had setup a water break station at the half-way point and at the turnaround point on trail, where the walkers could hydrate themselves. The turnaround point of the Walk-A-Thon was at a gazebo overlooking a lake, so the participants could take in the beautiful scenery before turning back to return to the starting point. When the walkers returned to the starting point, they were treated to a delicious, home-made bhel-puri and ice cream, served by Ekal - RTP Youth Group volunteers.
In a way, the Walk-A-Thon resembled the long treks that many children living in the poorest and remotest villages of India have to make to get an education, if they are lucky enough to have a formal school in close proximity to their village. The goal of the Walk-A-Thon was to allow children living in villages with no formal schools, or formal schools that are too far away for the children to attend regularly, to get an education in their own village, from a teacher from their own village, in their own native language and dialect, and according to a schedule that is convenient for them.
The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation is a charitable trust that initiates, supports, and runs one-teacher schools (popularly known as Ekal Vidyalayas) all over India. The Ekal Vidyalaya movement aims to help eradicate illiteracy from rural and tribal India by 2015. To date, Ekal Vidyalaya is a movement of over 35,115 schools and 984,480 students, 6,000 voluntary workers, 22 field organizations, and 8 support agencies. With this tremendous human force, the Ekal Vidyalaya movement strives to create a network of literacy centres that will educate and empower children in rural and tribal India.
To find out more about Ekal, please visit http://www.ekal.org
PIA is an informal group of young (20's-30's) Indian professionals and graduate students interested in cultural events, socializing and meeting/making friends with like-minded people around the Triangle area of North Carolina. To find out more about PIA, please visit http://www.meetup.com/PIATriangle/