By Prakash Waghmare
The Covid-19 pandemic had posed a grave economic concern to Ekal movement, which is active in 102,000 villages in India and Nepal. In absence of usual stage performances for fundraising, the future of its numerous projects was in jeopardy. The solution? Ekal-USA launched a series of virtual concerts across North America by two troupes. One troupe was headed by Sa, Re, Ga, Ma contest winner Sanjeevani Bhelande and another was headlined by Milind Oak’s ‘Niche’ banner. ‘Event committee’ in consultation with ‘Technology-Team’ provided significant support to the chapters in strategic transatlantic hook ups while the artistes performed live in the Indian studios.
Between May 23 and July 25, Sanjeevani’s troupe had four virtual concerts and Milind Oak had two. All concerts including one in Canada were interactive and the donations were realized live in ‘real time.’ Thus, Ekal managed to raise $1.65 Million during these virtual concerts. Couple of more concerts are to follow – on August 1, for Southwest region by Hemant Kumar Group and on August 8 for Canada-West by Milind Oak’s group.
Before the official ‘clamp-down’ in late-March, Ekal in fact, had started the year by hosting 10 fundraising stage-events that highlighted fascinating rural-tribal artistry and their unique culture. These events took place in southern states and raised $650,000. According to Arun Gupta, Board Chairman of Ekal-USA, “this is a splendid testament to the donor’s trust in Ekal movement.”
During Covid-19 pandemic, the schools were closed and even virtual tutoring and home assignments for the students stopped. To channelize youth’s pent-up energy and brain-power, Ekal innovated for their mutual benefit. Numerous DIY projects – where youths provided virtual tutoring to other youths – were floated on Ekal platform. The subjects preferred were Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, so this campaign was called STEAM. This is an on-going effort till the schools open.
Ekal V. Foundation is present in 10 countries and is tax-exempt in several of them, including US & Canada. It renders all services free-of-cost, irrespective of caste, faith and gender. For this reason and specifically for its enormous work in empowering the rural-tribal folks, the Government of India honored the foundation with the iconic Gandhi Peace Prize two years back.