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Ottawians adopt rural town of Kalthana in Rajasthan (India)

1.     In an outstanding initiative - 'Building a better world, One village at a time' and 'Free the Children' - announced the adoption of Kalthana, a rural town in Rajasthan (India), at a gala function in Ottawa on Saturday 30 January 2016.

2.    The grand initiative is the brainchild of Dr. Pradeep Merchant, Site Chief, Division of Neonatology, The Ottawa Hospital, as well as, a prominent educationist and philanthropist,who as co-chair of a committee of prominent Ottawiansworked tirelessly over months to organize this event. In his address he noted that 'Adopt a village' was designed to break the cycle of poverty in the village of Kalthana through the promotion of education, clean water and sanitation, health, agriculture, and alternative income.

3.    Dr. Merchant teamed up with a NGO 'Free the Children'- - which believes that education offers the single greatest social return in the eradication of poverty. It works diligently to implement its holistic and sustainable 'Adopt a Village' development model. Thirty-three year oldCraig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, was the keynote speaker of the evening. His speech moved every individual in the room as he recounted his inspired journey since the age of twelve.He remarked that education is one of the most important investments a country can make in its people and its future. 'Free the children'aims to bring positive change in not just one kid's life, but uplift an entire village.

4.    Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson, High Commissioner of India Vishnu Prakash and a number of other prominent persons were present on the occasion. Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, sent a message of felicitations which was read out during the evening which witnessed a turnout of some 280 individuals who contributed over $410,00.00 for the village of Kalthana!

5.    Hailing the initiative, High Commissioner Prakash warmly congratulated Dr. Merchant and all participants for coming forward so enthusiastically to assist the under-privileged children and families. He spoke of numerous efforts of government of India to eradicative illiteracy through programmes like free daily mid-day meals for some 120 million children and 'Education-for-all'. He particularly cited Gujarat's model of incentivizing girl-child's education.

Photos - courtesy Ottawa Citizen

2 February 2016




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