“Let’s strive to create an environment where the billion possibilities in their impressionable brains are given the opportunity to be realized. For a moment, envision them walking in a world, created by us adults, with their heads held high, with hope in their hearts, and a spark in their eyes.”
~ Om Swami
The launch of the latest ground-breaking social development project – Sri Badrika Ashram Emerging Youth Scholarship Scheme, “पढ़ो और बढ़ो” (Learn and Grow) holds great promise for a brighter future for the underprivileged children of Himachal Pradesh, rippling out towards better livelihoods for their families and the collective welfare of the society as a whole.
This honourable initiative was started with Swamiji’s divine blessings and support in July 2021, spearheaded by the devoted and industrious Mr. Rajiv Mittal, administrator of Sri Badrika Ashram, and a dedicated team of volunteers. He talks about this project with humility and passion.
“The ambitious vision of this project is to provide quality education at the college undergraduate level – to as many students as possible of Himachal Pradesh, belonging to primarily BPL (below-the-poverty-line) families”.
This will entail financial help and guidance to those students who show potential, have an inner drive to follow their dreams, but are prevented from doing so because of poor financial or other difficult life situations at home. Families can neither afford the education fee or expenses nor provide career guidance, encouragement, or support in any way.
The fact remains that currently, Himachal Pradesh is one of the most underdeveloped states of India, with more than 90% of its population – around 75 lac people still living in rural areas, and subsisting on meagre agricultural incomes. They have little to no exposure to the dynamic pace of the outside world or any prospects for growth or professional careers.
The state is home to many educational institutes and universities that offer a wide variety of courses and specialisations. There are 5 Universities, 2 Medical Colleges, 4 Dental colleges, and 2 Engineering colleges in the state. There are over 10,000 secondary schools and more than 1300 schools in this region.
Special MOUs have already been signed by the Ashram with top universities in the region, like the Himachal Pradesh University and UIT (University Institute of Technology) and UILS (University Institute of Legal Studies) to name a few.
In such a short span of time, more than 60 talented students have already been awarded these scholarships. The number is likely to go up to 80 by the end of September. The stage is all set for this to be one of the most inspiring initiatives from the ashram that will have a great impact on the lives of aspiring children.
Every case is evaluated individually taking into account the aptitude, interests, and preferences of each child. Ranging from career streams, as varied as law to veterinary sciences, each child’s dream is important, respected, and treated with care. Each of them is deemed a powerhouse of potential to be sent out to a world of equal opportunities, so that they can realise their dreams and have the best chance at life.
An associated opportunity identified is to assist students with the fee for professional-grade coaching, to help them crack major competitive entrance exams like JEE for engineering, NEET for medical, etc. A tie-up for online coaching has already been initiated by the ashram with a prestigious coaching institute in Mumbai.
This pioneering project has ambitious plans. The next year’s target is to double the number of scholarship pay-outs to 200 and reach a minimum figure of 1000 students in the next five years!
To keep the ball rolling in the direction of progress, there is a moral obligation or understanding with the students to pay-it-forward in the future, by contributing at least 1% of their future income towards educating other children from similar disadvantaged backgrounds who are helpless to change their circumstances.
It was indeed a beautiful sunny day when 8 beautiful nursing students from MMU (Maharishi Markandeshwar University, Solan), came to the ashram to receive their scholarships and blessings.
Sadhviji conducted a beautiful, sacred visualisation meditation for them, invoking and calling on Mother Divine inside a delicate pink lotus. She guided the students on how to best manage a stressful life and to look within, for a calmer and more balanced one. The session ended with a sweet kirtan sung together as an ode to the Universal Mother to seek her blessings and grace for all present.
Sri Badrika Ashram Trustees would like to thank all the devotees who have come forward to help build the Scholarship Fund. It would not have been possible without you!