Ekal Houston Gala Raises $1.5 Million

Ekal Vidyalaya’s Houston Chapter held its fundraising Gala at Sugarland Marriott, Saturday, October 6, 2018.  This Gala was our first crack at it and the volunteers, charitable donors, and especially the young generation made it a roaring success, in terms of the attendance, donations and commitments made. The event was attended by over 650 people; 150 from the younger generation. Guests enjoyed dressing up for a fine evening of good food, social interaction and learning about Ekal Abhiyan. They opened their wallets and pledged over $1.5 million to support holistic development of villages and tribal areas of India.

The evening began with a networking hour. The formal program started with the American and Indian National Anthems, sung by Ms. Karuna Antani.

Ms. Pooja Lodhia, from Channel 13 KTRK, event emcee, carried the evening forward expressing her curiosity to learn more about Ekal where more than 50% of the students are young girls. She invited Houston Chapter President Pankaj Desai to welcome the guests and introduce Dr. Anupam Ray, Consul General of India. Dr. Ray expressed how Ekal movement, through education, has been transforming curious yet education deprived young children into healthy and productive citizens. Each educated child is one less for the Devil’s workshop!

The Gala Chair, Ramesh Shah, extended specific welcome to Dr. Kiran Patel, keynote speaker from Tampa, Florida, and to the Ekal India leadership team: Bajrag Bagra (CEO – Ekal India), Naresh Kumar (President – Ekal Global) and Hema Malini Kumar (VP – Ekal Arogya). He introduced a video about Ekal Abhiyan, a program that evolved beyond child education into special projects: Digital Literacy (using tablets), Ekal-on-Wheels (mobile computer lab), Skills Development Centers (vocational education), Tailoring Centers (for women), Telemedicine, and Integrated Village Development (covers 30 villages). The contribution from Ekal USA now supports nearly 25% of the 75,000 schools in India.

Ekal USA President, Suresh Iyer, then introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Kiran Patel, who delivered a very powerful message on how selfless giving comes back to you in greater multiples – quoting Sir Alexander Fleming, inventor of penicillin, anecdote. Swapnil Agarwal, young entrepreneur from Houston, expressed his passion for education and shared his success story from humble beginnings.  His vision of providing for his consumers, employees, and investors made him a very credible and empathetic speaker – commented a young professional in the hall.  

Vibhore Jain, entrepreneur from the young generation, narrated how they celebrated their son’s first birthday by donating to Ekal since education and children are so dear to Anvi and him.  He invited Sonal Shah, an accomplished economist and educationist, who launched Indicorps to work on issues of healthcare, farming, women empowerment, etc. in India, similar to Ekal’s mission.

She inspired her peers to realize their potential and make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

The evenings fund raising was coordinated by Wayne Wheat, ex-Army Airborne Captain and motivational speaker. Donations poured in from the hearts of philanthropists from Houston and as far as East and West coasts.

Dancers from Bollywood Shake and the Roarin’ Raas group from the University of Houston entertained the guests with their artistic and energetic performances. After the dinner the guests danced to Bollywood and Hollywood tunes from DJ Yogi G.

Gala director Yogi Patel delivered a vote of thanks to all who made this gala possible – vendors, event planner Therese, dance groups, volunteers, and the guests.