Some $2.6 million in pledges were made for the education of children in remote areas of India at the 15th Aim For Seva Canada annual gala on Sunday. (AIM for SEVA has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.). Two hostels worth more than $200,000 were also donated at the event.
Over the past 15 years, the AIM Gala has become a glittering fixture in the GTA’s social and charity calendar. This year’s event attracted a record of more than 900 people, inside the cavernous ballroom of the Pearson Convention Centre.
The biggest donor of the day was businessman Inder Sharma who committed $2 million to help build residential school infrastruce and equip them with digital labs and modern technology in a tribal belt in India, so that it could become a hub for massive development of the area. In 2014, Mr. Sharma built a free self-sufficient hostel for poor students in Dehradun (Uttarakhand) and continues to support it. (Mr. Sharma runs the Indeka Group, Canada’s largest brand marketer of upscale shoes, with a huge distribution centre in Oakville and offices in Montreal and Vancouver.)
Mr. Sharma said that he had been told that the AIM for Seva girl’s school in Khategaon in rural Madhya Pradesh gives education to 250 underprivileged girls. “There is a plan to build a modern residential English medium school there and I am committing $2 million for this purpose and hope that our suppport provides a platform to make this dream a reality.”
Entrepreneur and social activist Srini Gollapudi, who lost his eyesight in 2001 and learnt Braille and new living skills to transform his life, was the guest of honour at the event. Mr. Gollapudi donated a free student’s home which is to be built in his ancestral village of Vetapalem in Andhra Pradesh.
Businessman Anand Jain and his wife Vijaya, who were chief guests, also donated a free student’s home to be built at Brindaban in Uttar Pradesh. They came to Canada 41 years ago with $8 in their pockets and built a flourishing engineering business. “God has been gracious and given us enough to give back to the world,” Mr. Jain said.
Keynote speaker was Dr. Dharampal Lokwani.
Aim for Seva Canada President Dr. Terry Papneja, in his welcome address, said it was a matter of pride that Canadian philanthropists have come forward to donate 23 hostel buildings in different parts of India, and raising $4.4 million for Seva work. Last year alone, 591 students were supported by Canadian donors who arranged for thier fees and complete living expenses.
Dr. Papneja also thanked the Young Professionals group with the AIMS for their spirit of volunteerism.
Aim for Seva was founded by Swami Dayananda Saraswati who passed away in September 2015.
The evening’s entertainment was provided by Bollywood’s Shiamak Davar and his troupe. – CINEWS