NRI in Aus join hands to support underprivileged children


These three community leaders along with an Australian dental surgeon established 'Yatra Foundation' that aims to make education accessible for underprivileged children incorporating child health, education and public health initiatives in the school setting.

Foundation's co-founder and managing director of a Melbourne-based sporting goods company Sanjay Jain, said the NGO had bigger projects for Rajasthan that included launch of two mobile schools after successfully running two schools.

Jain along with reputed paediatrician Ravi Savarirayan, fashion designer Renu Binaykia and dental surgeon Sophie Beaumont have been actively organising three to four fund raising events every year to resource the current schools and open more schools in the area.
Interestingly, the NGO has not been able to tap NRIs for such a cause and Jain revealed that funds are largely contributed by local Australians.

"Each event of fund raising can collect at least USD 30,000 to USD 35,000 Aus dollars and over 90 per cent donations came from Australians. We have not been able to tap NRIs for the same apart from immediate family or friends," Jain said. Elaborating on the mobile school project, Jain disclosed that the project that will comprise two buses with desks, a library, a computer and a TV for pupils has been finalised and now the NGO was looking for funds to launch it.

"Its an expenditure of over USD 100,000 Aus dollars for such a educational bus with around USD 40,000 running cost annually," an optimistic Jain said adding the foundation was now aiming for it. The two established schools have around 200 students in total and Jain said the kind of learning pattern provided in these schools differed from the local government schools of the area.

"We try to educate our students of their rights and also incorporate many extra curricular activities like embroidery classes for adolescent girls," Jain added. Jain also said that there was even a criteria of hiring teachers who should not be preferably from local government schools as the teaching patterns were based on different model that included focus on extra curricular activities and building up confidence.

He explained how a 10 year old girl student who was the best football player of the school was being encouraged  to hone her sports skills. Jain referred to long term goals of his foundation that was finally aiming to run exchange programmes in future between Australian schools and the schools run by Yatra that would help to understand the culture of the two countries.

Apart from education, the Foundation also uses medical expertise of Savarirayan and Beaumont and run medical camps for the pupils. The camp that was organised in March 2009, where pupils were offered free medical follow up and were also supplied with vitamins and health supplements to give them a better chance of concentrating and learning in class.

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