When over 200 people, many of them second-gen- eration Indians, gathered a few weeks ago in Seattle to raise money for Pratham, one of India’s
best known NGO that provides education to thousands of
economically disadvantaged children, they were offering
more than their dollars. They shared first-hand information people gathered after visiting Pratham schools, and
many knew of second-generation Indian Americans who
had volunteered in Pratham’s efforts in India.
The fundraiser, organized by the Seattle branch of
Pratham, which is among a dozen more active branches
of the organization in North America, raised over
$400,000 in pledges, according to the organizers. They
said that at least 16,000 children will benefit over a year’s
period, thanks to the funds raised.
Deepti Vyas shared memories of her many visits to
Pratham projects and about the inspiring teachers and
students she has met.
Srilakshmi and Srilata Remala explained how their family supports Pratham’s mission of "every child in school
and learning well," by giving a multi-year donation to a
project in their father’s hometown.
Board member Manisha Chainani shared a personal
story of a family staff member who, while running her
own catering business, still cannot read or write.
Chainani encouraged the audience to think about what
this woman could have accomplished if she had learned
to read and write through Pratham programs when she
Every year, thousands of Indians in America and
Canada, with a substantial number of them being sec-
ond-generation Indians, raise several million dollars for
NGO work across India. Hundreds go to India to work
with NGOs there. Their work in India has also inspired
them to contribute to NGO work in Africa, Central
America and in a few Asian countries. Over the years,
many Rhodes and Marshall scholars in America have
brought home to America impressive examples of their
work with NGOs in India. Some have even started their
on NGO projects in India.
Several young Indian Americans recalled how their parents were so worried about job security when they first
came to America in the 1970s and 1980s that they did not
think much about India, apart from sending a few thousand dollars a year to their parents. Then they began
building temples. Only a decade and a half or so ago did
they think of building a school in India, expanding a hospital or starting a medical camp. Slowly, they started getting their children involved.
But in the last five years, there has been a significant
increase in the number of Indian students and young
professionals, many of them born in this country, fueling
NGO work across India. There are at least two dozen
organizations, including the high-profile Pratham, and
Akshaya Patra, that are benefiting greatly from this. The
examples of described here touches only a small part of
the vast network of social workers, professionals and
developmental entrepreneurs involved in this task.
Consider, several young people have foregone their
Sweet 16 birthday celebrations, usually a rite of passage,
to save and raise money for Akshaya Patra which offers
free nutritional meal to over 12 million school children
across India. A New Jersey student raised over $10,000 by
using her Sweet 16 party money to perform a fundraiser
dance for the organization. Athletes in many cities have
raised money for the organization, too.
There are other organizations, covered elsewhere in
this issue, that have done yeoman service.
There is the Sankara Eye Foundation, which has worked
with an Indian team to help it meet its goal of eradicating
curable blindness in India by 2020.
Another organization in the field is The Eye Foundation
of America, set up by Dr V K Raju and now poised to
expand to many rural areas in India.
A30 Support a Cause Response Feature India Abroad November 29, 2013
money – and some
drive – well-meaning
do their bit to help
An Akshaya Patra fundraiser in New York City.
Students enjoy the new playground at Jila Pareshered Primary School,
a school in Kolhewadi, India, whose renovation was made possible by
a grant from Tredegar Corporation to ChildFund.