Life Global recognized for philanthropy by Gandhi Ashram, Gujarat
Chairman Dr. Sudhir Parikh, President Dr. Arun Palkhiwala, and Founder-Secretary Amar Shah honored
On February 16, 2023, the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad hosted a visit from lifelong supporters, Share and Care Foundation and Life Global representatives Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Dr. Sudha Parikh, Amar and Jyotsna Shah, Dr. Arun and Dr. Bharati, and Kalpana Palkhiwala, at Somnath Chhatralaya.
Share and Care Foundation is based in New Jersey, and the global charitable institution Life Global has a strong presence in the U.S. under Dr. Sudhir Parikh’s leadership.
Somnath Chhatralaya is the historic hostel built by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921 through the generous donation of Shri Somnathji. The school provides education and hostel facilities for some 500 girl students. After the visit to Somnath Chhatralaya, the special guests went to Khedbrahma, Sabarkantha to lay the foundation stone for a new residential school catering to 150 students attending Standards 1-7, and hailing from innermost nomadic and tribal communities of Sabarkantha, named “Pravasi Ashram Shala.”
At Somnath Chhatralaya, guests were informed about the rich legacy of this iconic place and were deeply inspired by the hostel’s role in empowering women, according to a press release.
They were welcomed by the hostel’s current residents, a group of around 500 girls from various rural villages of Gujarat, studying at the Ashram educational facilities.
The visitors “praised the hostel’s simple yet dignified accommodations, which reflect the values of simplicity and frugality that Gandhiji championed throughout his life,” the press release said.
In the verdant foyer of Somath Chatralaya, sitting under the shade of huge trees with birds chirping in the background, the guests welcomed with an intricate hand-made rangoli of Mother Earth at the entrance, a traditional kanku-tilak and the girls singing soulful bhajans to begin the proceedings of the morning.
Girl students performed a dance and enthusiastically showed their creative talents at the exhibition of hand-made objects which included heart pins, intricately embroidered handkerchiefs, khadi aatis (malas), and colourful teaching-learning material (TLM) that they had prepared.
The exhibition also featured a photo collage of various celebrations held throughout the year, and a display of their collection of Indian sarees from their Saree Library.
Each guest gave a speech that echoed the importance of education and self-sufficiency for women. They encouraged the girls to give back to society what they had the precious opportunity to learn at the Ashram.
Dr. Sudhir Parikh shared an inspiring story about his journey of becoming a successful doctor and businessman, despite growing up in a small house where all five siblings and parents shared a single room. He would study in a public garden during the day time and at nights, he would use the bathroom to continue his studying, due to lack of space. He urged the girls to believe in themselves and never see their financial hurdles as being insurmountable in the face of any goals they set for themselves.
Dr. Arun Palkhiwala said he was deeply impressed by the holistic growth of the girls at the Ashram, and remarked that in his view, the support they were providing to our children have been “Worth it, and more than worth it!”
His sister, Kalpana Palkhiwala, an ex-broadcaster at All India Radio who has studied Gandhiji’s life closely, shared a moving story about Gandhiji’s non-violent resistance to rioters at Noakhali in 1946, which melted the hearts of the Muslims, who threw down their weapons and joined his troupe of bhajan singers. Her narration of this incident brought tears to many in the audience, organizers said in the press release.
The students also took turns to share their experiences and express their gratitude for the opportunities they had received to study at Somnath Chhatralaya.
“Two of our students, Annapurna and Suhani spoke movingly about how their lives had been transformed by coming to study at the Ashram, and how they had gained the confidence and wisdom to pursue their dreams,” the press release noted.
Jayesh Patel and Ajitdada, trustees of Ashram and Sankar Kumar Sanyal, head of Harijan Sevak Sangh, were also present at the occasion and expressed their heartfelt gratitude to guests for their continued support.
Kamiksha V. Patel, the principal of Stree Adhyapan Mandir, shared her experience of how the girls who come to study at the Ashram develop a new sense of self confidence and gain a more compassionate outlook towards society. She thanked the guests for their assurance that they would take care of the entire year’s expenses for all the girls.
Lunch was served at the Ashramshala hostel