The trio from the Toronto area got a first-hand look at how the charity puts its money (100 per cent of its money) where its mouth is when they visited two AIM for Seva funded hostel-schools – one in Kareli and one in Jabalpur.
And they witnessed how these projects provided a comprehensive environment of educational, moral and social upbringing for children who otherwise stood little chance of self-advancement.
The three – sisters Koyelle and Anjali Papneja and their cousin Ashish Papneja – aren’t strangers to AIM. They were all founding contributors to the Kareli hostel. And they are very familiar with the value of education – Koyelle and Anjali are studying to be doctors (at McMaster and the University of Toronto respectively) while Ashish will be going to dental school after he gets his science degree at U of T.
“My visits to the hostels left me with a feeling of joy that I haven’t really experienced before,” said Koyelle. “To see children from remote, extremely poor villages learning and growing in these hostels was a remarkable experience. I am a strong believer in the power of education to change lives, particularly those lives that are otherwise destined for poverty.”
Her sister echoed that sentiment. “Education is a powerful tool,” said Anjali. “It makes you a powerful and capable person. I noticed the kids’ confidence and pride in their singing, their artistic abilities. Once you have confidence in your education, you have confidence in everything. It was obvious to me that a lot of these kids had discovered their talents through this education.”
“At Kareli, we had lunch with the kids,” said Ashish, “and they served us food and ate with us. They kids are very disciplined, but very welcoming. The main teacher at Jabalpur conducted the songs they sang and you could see that he cared about the kids and wanted them to do well. The kids at both schools were very energetic, and obviously happy to be taking advantage of the opportunity that they were given.”
While the two hostels are similar in curriculum and general facilities, the one in Kareli is integrated with a private school campus, giving the children a chance to interact with the other school’s students and not have to be transported from the hostel.
As Ashish noted, both were clean and nicely built, with lots of space. “Even the walls had learning materials on them; the settings contributed to the educational atmosphere.”
“Having the opportunity to see the hostels first-hand made me proud,” said Anjali. “I have more ability and credibility to tell other people to donate because I can say I’ve seen it first-hand.”
“AIM is a great organization because its philosophy is eradicating poverty through education, which aligns with my values,” said Koyelle. “By educating children to support themselves and their families, they are building their individual futures and that of future generations.”