GWEI and AVANI: A New Revelation

Arun Gandhi Gandhi Center for Learning Kolhapur IndiaAs it appears right now, people may get the impression that we are still planning a Sunanda Memorial School and that is not right because the Board of Directors has taken a decision to call it “Gandhi Center for Learning.” I think this write up will put everything in perspective.

GWEI and AVANI Partnership

After the death of my wife, Sunanda, in 2007, I gathered some of my friends and formed a non-profit called Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute (GWEI) in May 2008 and our objective was narrow and simple – to build a school in memory of my wife Sunanda.  In 2009 GWEI was officially recognized as a 501c3.

In the 15 years that I have escorted groups of travelers on Gandhi Legacy Tours I rediscovered Anuradha Bhosale and her organization AVANI, an acronym for food, clothing and shelter, for children who lack these essentials. I am impressed by Anuradha’s dedication, compassion and love for impoverished children, women and the oppressed.

Like many rural and small town NGOs in India, AVANI was suffering from a lack of funds. Anuradha had started AVANI in partnership with my Indian philanthropist friend Arun Chavan and his wonderful Verala Development Society.

See also – A Trusteeship of Intention by Tushar Gandhi

Sunanda Gandhi Memorial School Renamed Gandhi Center for LearningHowever, we offered AVANI a partnership with an ‘ulterior motive.’ I thought we would provide the funds and we would get a ready made school to be named after my late wife. It was typically selfish and arrogant of me.

Truth changes and so do perceptions. Because my grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, had always insisted that we must PURSUE THE TRUTH I opened my mind and heart to the inner voice and heard grandfather asking: “So, you want to usurp what Anuradha and AVANI have built with sweat, blood and tears and use it as a memorial for your wife?” The absurdity of the situation became shamefully stark.

THE NEW REVELATION

AVANI does need operational funds and an infrastructure to be able to expand the activities for children threatened by exploitation, slavery and prostitution, and for women who are destitute, ignorant and impoverished. GWEI, along with a coalition of NGOs, will provide this. For the past several years GWEI has been funding the activities of AVANI and the work has expanded substantially. But there are millions more to save and help and the work is enormous.

GWEI has pledged to build a campus where we can house and educate children in need of love and compassion. The campus will be called THE GANDHI CENTER FOR LEARNING and the buildings within the campus will be named after my father, mother, deceased sister and my beloved Sunanda. The campus will leased to AVANI to continue with their outstanding work within the framework of Gandhian Principles.

Gandhi’s concept of education is founded on the three Hs – Head, Heart and Hands. Head is to imbibe knowledge, the heart is to acquire compassion, respect, understanding of people, cultures and religions and the hands to work and produce one’s own needs.

IT IS OUR HOPE AND PRAYER THAT THIS MODEL SUCCEEDS SO WE CAN HELP REPLICATE IT IN OTHER PARTS OF THE IMPOVERISHED WORLD.

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