Two major donors to the non-profit organization AIM for SEVA are building schools for low income children in Petlawadi, a tribal area of Madhya Pradesh, and Chunchunakatte, a village near Mysore, Karnataka.
Indian American software engineer Jugal Kishor and his wife Bimla Kishor, who reside in the San Francisco Bay Area, have donated $500,000 to build the school in Madhya Pradesh. A groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility will be conducted Jan. 25, 2018. When it is finished, the two-story building will have the capacity to educate more than 1,000 children, Jugal Kishor told India-West.
“Literacy is the birthright of every human being. There is a great need for formal education in India’s tribal belts,” said the retiree, who spent most of his career at Sun Microsystems.
“If we can do anything to boost education levels, this is the best form of seva we can do for our motherland. When we help the students, we help their families and build a strong nation,” he said, noting that the new school is dedicated to his mother and father.
In 2012, the Kishors donated a similar amount to the Red Cross of India to build the Bishan Devi Bhandari Samporan Anand Bhawan in the town of Faridkot, Punjab, Bimla’s birthplace. The school currently serves 200 physically-challenged children with speech, vision, hearing, and mobility impairments, and is dedicated to Bimla’s mother.
Retired nurse Kaveri Rangaraj has donated $100,000 to build a free student hostel in her home town of Chunchanakatte, on the banks of the Kaveri River near Mysore, Karnataka. The hostel already has several students who live there during the school year. The facility was recently upgraded with a water filtration unit for children to have clean drinking water, and a solar water heater for showers and kitchen use. A project is now underway to install solar panels for electricity to run the lights and fans.
“I grew up observing children who were smart but unfortunate because they
were poor and did not have the means to get an education and lift themselves and their families out of the cycle of poverty and petty labor jobs,” said Rangaraj in a statement issued by AIM for SEVA.
“I felt that it was like pouring ghee into a lamp to light the flame – the flame of education,” said Rangaraj, who visited the hostel in December.
The organization also announced a donation of $5,000 – collected by the grand-daughters of Vijay Kapoor, coordinator of the San Francisco chapter of AIM for SEVA – which will be used to build a computer center at a school in Udaipur.
AIM for SEVA was founded in 1999 by the late Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who was inspired to create free student hostels for village children who lived far from their schools. The organization – headquartered in Chennai with chapters throughout the U.S. – has since built 100 free student hostels in remote areas of India.
In addition to lodging, AIM for SEVA provides its young charges with food, clothing, books and school supplies, and tutoring if needed. Several of the hostels, also known as chatralayas, also have computer learning centers. All are equipped with land for children to play after school.
The San Francisco chapter of AIM for SEVA is hosting a benefit concert – featuring classical vocalist Mahesh Kale – on Dec. 30, at the California Theater in San Jose, at 5 p.m. More information about the event can be found at aimforsevabayarea.org.