The foundation’s passion, almost transformed into an obsession, is to dive deeper into a geographical area and demographics neglected or underserved for a century or more, that area perhaps is found by other civic leaders to be unglamorous for their attention and resources. We are referring to poverty-ridden villages in the desert of Rajasthan (India) where the inhabitants are trapped into the vicious cycle of punishing, inhospitable weather, high illiteracy rate, especially among female/adolescent girls, lack of medical care, substandard quality of educational and athletic facilities, all ensuring very little upward mobility. We personally witnessed it, observed it, experienced it during our early formative years. So, our passion to redress some of these issues, in whatever small way we can, is not rooted in pure ideological, philosophical, lofty aspirations; it is based on scars etched into our psyche from those powerful, memorable experiences of early formative years.
Our primary focus is on illiteracy, especially among adolescent girls in these villages where the female illiteracy rate is over 50%. Still today an unacceptable illiteracy rate of over 50% and its devastating effects on all areas of life.
We have taken the approach of creating prototypes that can be adopted by other civic and public sector leaders. These prototypes include quality academic and athletic facilities, incorporating digital technologies in classrooms and teaching in these prototype village schools, inspiring students to excel through providing scholarships and public recognition. We have witnessed the results. In one school under this program, the high school pass rate was about 50% seven years ago when the program started; today it is consistently around 100% and quality of passing has improved. We expect to develop, nurture change agents, change leaders, inspiring role models among this adolescent group.
We have built a modern athletic complex in one prototype village to train state, national, and international caliber athletes. See the glimpse of it on the left page. It inspires civic leaders of other villages to adopt and improve upon the idea. We introduced digitization of teaching and learning in a village school. Heads of other schools are visiting and taking the concept to their schools. We provide or finance sixty scholarships annually that has touched numerous lives. We have partnered with other reputable NGO for constructions of an Olympic standard athletic complex with high hopes of training international standard athletes. Plan to build a modern school in this desert village, side by side of the athletic complex is already on the drawing board. A plan to take these ideas to all 3,000 schools in two districts of Rajasthan has been developed, but because of its enormity of time and resource needs, external funding is being seriously pursued. We think a movement has started that will spread and touch many generations.
The foundation’s efforts are led by its sole founder, Hari Garhwal, and the technological, ecological, environmental tasks are assigned to a young college-bound student, Hirsh Garhwal, whose creativity and imagination in the environmental studies and language skills are exemplary and highly critical to this mission.