AADHAAR in the News

2017: Aadhaar members participated in ( "Enschede Marathon" ) 2017
AADHAAR tshirt for the Enschede Marathon

2016: The spirit of participation of Aadhaar ( "Enschede Marathon" ) 2016
Jubiliant AADHAAR Members after finishing Enschede Marathon

2015: Aadhaar members participated in ( "Enschede Marathon" ) 2015
Jubiliant AADHAAR Members after finishing Enschede Marathon

2014: Aadhaar members participated in ( "Enschede Marathon" ) 2014
AADHAAR Members after finishing Enschede Marathon

2014: Aadhar is now registered with ANBI ( "ANBI Website" ).

AADHAAR, in collaboration with Indian Student Association at UTwente, organised "Dandiya Dance Nite" on 18th Oct'13.

2012: Aadhaar members participated in Enschede Marathon 2012

2011: Dutch kids from School Het Spoor, Zeist raised funds for Aadhaar

Date: June 2011

Dutch kids from School Het Spoor

Enthusiastic group of kids (age 5-13 years) from school Het Spoor, Zeist raised approximately € 330 by selling their old toys etc. The initial contact was made by the teacher Ms. Danielle Wisman, who came to know about the activities of Aadhaar from her friend Ms. Devika Thakrar, who is also an Aadhaar well-wisher for long time. Follwed by an invitation, a group of Aadhaar members went to visit the school to deliver the presentation and to interact with kids. In early June 2011, the event was participated by more than 50 kids and their teachers and supporting staff. There were several questions were asked by kids related to sustainability, education in India, working of an NGO etc. This event wouldn’t be possible without an active support from Ms. Devika Thakrar - an Aadhaar well-wishe. She has co-hosted the event and handled language related issues. The money generated was spend on opening of a 9th Aadhaar knowledge centre in the state of Bihar, India. Aadhaar team thanks all the enthusiastic kids and teachers for their support and trust.

2010: Haringparty

Date: UT news: 24 jun 2010 (Nr. 20), (Wk. 25)
Weblink: http://www.utnieuws.utwente.nl/new/?artikel_id=72635

Haring party

Several dozen students and staff took part in last week Thursday Herring Party in the Faculty Club. Important part of the program was of course the consumption of fresh fish, provided by UT-caterer Sodexo. But the guests were also witnessed an auction, led by Executive Board Vice-Chairman Kees van Ast. A barrel of herring had the highest amount possible cause for the selected charity, the Foundation Aadhar (An Association for the Development of Academic and Health Awareness in Rural India). This foundation supports a number of UT staff development in India from the Netherlands. The bid EWI Professor Henk Zijm the herring did was not exceeded. Yield: 395 euros.

Enkele tientallen medewerkers en studenten namen vorige week donderdagmiddag deel aan de Haringparty in de Faculty Club. Belangrijkste programmaonderdeel was uiteraard het consumeren van verse vis, beschikbaar gesteld door UT-cateraar Sodexo. Maar de gasten waren ook getuige van een veiling, geleid door CvB-vicevoorzitter Kees van Ast. Een tonnetje haring moest een zo groot mogelijk bedrag opleveren voor het geselecteerde goede doel: de stichting Aadhaar (An Association for the Development of Health and Academic Awareness in Rural India). Deze stichting van een aantal UT-medewerkers ondersteunt ontwikkelingswerk in India vanuit Nederland. Het bod dat EWI-hoogleraar Henk Zijm op de haring deed werd niet overtroffen. Opbrengst: 395 euro.

2009: The needs of the underprivileged
UT's involvement in AADHAAR, stronger than ever before

By: Ashok Sridhar
Date: UT news: UT news, 20 mei 2009, (Nr. 17), (Wk. 21)
Weblink: http://www.utnieuws.utwente.nl/new/?artikel_id=74202

A decade after its inauguration, the founding members of AADHAAR, a non-profit socio-charitable association, can say that they have surmounted all the odds, treading a path less traveled, and achieved most of their pre-defined targets. In all their charitable endeavors, the UT has been a source of inspiration and generous benefactor.

AADHAAR, an Association for the Development of Health and Academic Awareness in Rural India, now has over 125 active members, most of them UTers or ex-UTers. The association is registered at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce and has even managed to attract a few non-Indian members. As the association grew, so did the financial support from UT. In 2004, the Faculty of Science and Technology (TNW) was the first faculty to recognize and financially support the philanthropic undertakings of AADHAAR.

Years later, in 2008, the UT's involvement augmented considerably by the additions of the Faculty of Engineering Technology (CTW), the Faculty of Behavioral Sciences (GW), MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, the Institute for Biomedical Technology (BMTI) and the Faculty Club, which all donated substantial amounts of money towards the cause.

In the future, most of the contributors have promised long-term support to keep the lamp that dispels darkness glowing for thousands in rural India. This year, the Institute of Mechanics, Processes and Control Twente (IMPACT) has joined the growing list of benefactors.

Armed with donations from the faculties and institutes of UT, many welfare programs were initiated and sustained in 2008. A self-sustainable Knowledge Centre, the third of its kind, was inaugurated in western India with the goal of providing library and computer facilities to underprivileged children. It is unique in the sense that it is located inside the premises of a school, whose teachers and senior students operate the centre on a voluntarily basis, and services are also open to the general public.

Need of the underpreviledged

Yet another landmark project for AADHAAR was the building of classrooms for the Parijat Academy, a school for tribal children in northeast India. Until a few months ago, when proper classrooms were built with the financial support of this organization, the students were protected from the elements by walls made of bamboo sheets and tin roofs.

Apart from its involvement in education-related activities, AADHAAR has diversified its portfolio last year and is actively collaborating with agencies involved in providing a ray of hope to children with disabilities, mentally challenged elderly and even sportspersons. With just 1000 euros, it was able to finance surgical procedures for 12 children who suffered from various disorders like facial cleft, and another 500 euros provided furniture and mattresses for the residents of a home for the mentally challenged.

It is a well-known fact that India does not produce enough quality sportspersons commensurate with its massive population and attributed to its lack of proper infrastructures. AADHAAR is playing its part in alleviating this gap by extending financial support to the Eklavya Archery Academy, which has produced many top level archers. The support allowed for the academy to purchase sports equipments which will go a long way to hone in the skills of its protégés.

Besides receiving donations, AADHAAR also earns a part of its income by executing projects for third parties. One such example was a successful project with the MESA+ Institute to design a brochure, for which it was financially rewarded and organizers say they are enthusiastic to work on more such projects.

Amidst these welfare activities, the organization managed to co-organize an academia-industry meet and panel discussion on the premises of the university, attended by the who's who of academia, industry and policy making in the Netherlands. With most of the activities materializing last year, 2008 could be called a red-letter year.

Dr. Pramod Agrawal, the chairman of AADHAAR, says, `The UT has been very generous to us, and we are extremely thankful. We would also like to bring other Dutch universities on-board. As a first step towards this, the Groningen chapter of AADHAAR was inaugurated last year. Let us hope that our success inspires students from other countries to think along the same lines and work for the betterment of their homeland.'

2008/2: Charitable organization expands its efforts
UT support changes lives of people living in rural India

By: Ashok Sridhar
Date: UT news, 11 sep 2008, (Nr. 25), (Wk. 37)
Weblink: http://www.utnieuws.utwente.nl/new/?artikel_id=72635

An Association for the Development of Health and Academic Awareness in Rural India (AADHAAR), founded and run by Indian students and researchers at UT, has made rapid strides since its inception in 1997. The past couple of years have been especially fruitful, with the charitable organization involving itself in a large number of social welfare projects across the length and breadth of India.

The prime mover behind this growth is the financial and moral backing of the UT. According to Dr. Pramod Agrawal, the Chairman of AADHAAR, contributions made by various divisions of the UT (CTW, Faculty Club, GW, MESA+ Institute and TNW) added up to more than 6,000 Euros in 2007, a near-100 percent increase in donations made in 2006. Agrawal attributes this increase to the organization's non-religious, non-profit approach, and to the regular feedback donors receive about how their donations are being spent.

One of the current projects of AADHAAR is in cooperation with Swabhimaan, a Bangalore-based organization working for the welfare of young, underprivileged girls. This organization handles the educational and daily needs of 16 girls under the age of 14, apart from its involvement in other social welfare activities. Impressed by this grassroots approach, the Dean of the Faculty of Behavioral Science, Professor Hubert Coonen has assured financial support for this project for next year as well. In his opinion, the other faculties of the UT should also try and support AADHAAR's cause in the long run to enable it to expand its efforts through the development of new projects.

Besides directly supporting the organization with funding, the UT is also responsible for the way in which AADHAAR approaches its pet project, the Knowledge Center. The concept of the Knowledge Center revolves around providing underprivileged children free access to a library, computers and associated software programs, under a single roof. The research-oriented approach of the UT has stimulated AADHAAR organizers to conduct their own research into ways of making the Knowledge Center self-sustainable.

AADHAAR strives to share its know-how garnered over the past decade with other motivated individuals and groups at the UT that are keen to make a difference in their homeland. For more details, email Agrawal: P.B.Agrawal@utwente.nl or visit the website, www.aadhaar.com.

2008/1: Paving the way for an exchange of knowledge
Impressions of the Academia-Industry meet and panel discussion

By: Anindita Ganguly and Supriyo Chatterjea
Date: Donderdag, 18 September 2008 - (Jaargang: 43, Nr. 26)

'If you don't take a chance, you don't stand a chance'. This was the slogan on the brochures distributed by the Indian community to 75 people last Friday at the Academia-Industry Meet and Panel Discussion event held at the Vrijhof auditorium on September 12.

Companies throughout the world are now leveraging India's vast human resources and consumer markets, and tapping into emerging investment opportunities. The Indian Student Association (ISA) in cooperation with the University of Twente (UT) teamed efforts to host a panel discussion and academia-industry meet. The event provided a rare opportunity for attendees to learn about conducting business in India and the Netherlands. Panelists addressed the issue of Indians, who are unwilling to exchange the safety of academic life for the risks involved with entrepreneurship.

'Taking risks is one of the most important attributes of an entrepreneur and this is something that one is born with,' said Mr. Ram Lakhina, the executive president of the Netherlands India Chamber of Commerce and Trade. He argued that the Netherlands is in need of skilled manpower and an emerging economy like India has the ability to meet this need. He offered the audience a detailed description of the steps involved in starting one's own company and provided various examples of Dutch organizations like SenterNovem and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), which can help expedite the process for entrepreneurs.

Distinguished speakers, the Rector Magnificus Henk Zijm and the Indian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ms Neelam Sabharwa traced the long cultural and trade relations between Indian and the Netherlands. She spoke highly of the entrepreneurial support the university offers its students and researchers. In her opinion, highly skilled Indians in the Netherlands, who understand the nuances of Dutch culture, besides possessing first hand knowledge of their own country, are the best candidates for Dutch companies planning to open subsidiaries in India.

'Entrepreneurship, is a choice of 10 to 15 % of UT employees and students in comparison to the Dutch national average of 4 %,' said Dr. Kees Eijkel, director of Kennispark Twente. He suggested that entrepreneurs and academics have a different line of thought, and Kennispark attempts to bridge this gap by joining the two forces together to facilitate a seamless transfer of knowledge. Eijkel was the ideal choice to enlighten the audience about applying scientific knowledge to developing commercial ventures.

Another speaker, Dr. Bob Hoekstra, the director of Opportunity India Consulting is the pioneer of the Indian Business Centre, a greenhouse for ideas to serve rural India by applying technologies and business models. He said India offers the best market for most companies around the world thanks to its huge population and varying needs. `One of our biggest campuses is in India. We have just off-shored our headquarters to Holland,' joked Hoekstra, who was also the former CEO of the Phillips Centre in Bangalore, India. He said the future of Holland lay in the hands of the highly skilled population that is attracted to its shores.

The closing panel discussion stimulated debate about the pitfalls that new entrepreneurs might face when starting a business venture, the government's role to offer financial support, and the ideas needed to close the gap between industry and academia. The panel discussion was then opened to the audience who quizzed panelists on a range of topics.

When asked what roles Indian students could play in boosting the Dutch economy, Mrs. Riva Das Ganguly, minister at the Indian Embassy, informed the audience about the Global Indian Network of Knowledge (GINK), an electronic platform, which enables Indians all over the world to give their opinions and suggestions on various subjects to improve India.

As an advocate of internationalization, Zijm closed the session by expressing his hope that such events can pave the way for more spin-offs by skilled Indians, both in India and the Netherlands.

Panel discussion

Photo: On September 12 panelists discussed creating future spin-offs in India and the Netherlands (Credits: Gijs van Ouwerkerk).

2007: Second knowledge center in India
UT's impact on education 4000 miles from home

By: Ashok Sridhar
Date: UT news, Donderdag, 27 September 2007 - (Jaargang: 42, Nr. 28)
Weblink: http://www.utnieuws.utwente.nl/new/?artikel_id=70700

The UT's commitment to education has, not for the first time, touched the lives of those living way beyond the campus. Following the immense success of the first knowledge center at a small village in central India, AADHAAR (a charity organization founded by Indian students at the UT) inaugurated the second knowledge center in Multai, also in central India, on August 15.

Now as then, the contribution of the UT's employees from the money allotted for their Christmas gift has been a major financial source of the nuts and bolts of the knowledge center.

AADHAAR knowledge center

The small town of Multai and its vicinity are inhabited primarily by tribal people. Though rich in forests, biodiversity and water resources, this is one of the most backward areas in central India. The new knowledge center is aimed at improving the living standards of the tribal people by providing access to books and educational software for children, whose parents very likely are unable to write their own name even in their mother tongue. The center has four computers (donated by other sources), a book bank, a library and a photocopier, the latter three bought using the money donated by the UT faculties of CTW, GW and TNW. It is really a boon to these children who can avail this opportunity to learn by reading books that complement their academic curriculum and by learning to use computers.

The AADHAAR think tank has been contemplating a self-sustainable model for its knowledge centers for quite some time. According to this model, a knowledge center should be able to manage its expenses all by itself from the second year of its existence. The new knowledge center at Multai is a forerunner in the sense that it will use the photocopier to generate some revenue, thereby creating a small business unit within its premises. If successful, this model could be developed further and implemented in future knowledge centers.

AADHAAR is involved in a host of other social and charitable activities besides its efforts to educate underprivileged children. It is worth mentioning that a part of the fund from the UT was used to support SWABHIMAAN, an organization for orphaned or quasi-orphaned young girls in Bangalore, southern India. To quote the chairperson of AADHAAR, Pramod Agrawal, `Thanks to the generosity of the UT, we are able to work on several charitable projects simultaneously. We hope the financial support from the UT will continue this year as well as in the years to come.' In addition to its current charitable endeavors, AADHAAR is gladly willing to guide any non-governmental organization (NGO) working for socio-charitable causes, in any country. This is a golden opportunity for like-minded UTers who want to contribute to the betterment of their homeland, to benefit from AADHAAR's experience. Contact Agrawal at P.B.Agrawal@utwente.nl; or visit the website: www.aadhaar.com.

2006: Knowledge center for underprivileged
UT's commitment towards education in India

By: Amol Thakre
Date: UT news, Thursday 21 September 2006 - (Jaargang: 41, Nr. 26)
Weblink: http://www.utnieuws.utwente.nl/new/?artikel_id=9753

One thinks of the UT as an entrepreneurial and technical university where education, science, and technology are the central focus. But the UT also plays an indirect but significant role in education of underprivileged children in geographically distant countries such as India.

Thanks to the generous employees of the UT who decided to give last year's Christmas gift to Aadhaar (a charity organization founded by Indian students at the UT), a knowledge center in Soundad village in central India was opened this summer.

Aadhaar is a small non-commercial group begun in August 1997 in the Netherlands which provides the foundation to support social activities in India. Its main focus is to help the underprivileged in India through education and vocational training, providing medical facilities, support for women, and ensuring basic facilities in rural India.

One of its recent projects, supported by the funds raised from last year's Christmas gift by the faculty of TNW, is a knowledge center in Soundad, a small village in the state of Maharastra in central India. It is a very impoverished village with few educational facilities and is home to some very old and poor tribes. Most of the families living there are unable to provide their children even the basic educational needs for books, stationary etc. That's where this idea of developing a knowledge center can play an important role in social transformation.

Pramod Agrawal, a postdoctoral fellow in CT, comes from Soundad and has been actively involved in the project: "This idea came from one of Aadhaar's regular meetings last October. Since a similar project was undertaken with the funds from the TNW Christmas gift of 2003, it was not too difficult to convince Prof. A. Bliek, dean of the TNW faculty to consider Aadhaar for 2005 as well. In November 2005, three different organizations including Aadhaar were selected for the money from the Christmas gift. Everything worked out very well, and thanks to the TNW and the UT employees a working knowledge center is in place".

Nearly 1100 euros (60,000 INR) was received by the end of 2005. Finally "Aadhaar Knowledge Centre" was inaugurated on the 11th of July 2006 from this fund, just in time for the new academic year for the students in India. At this moment this knowledge center is becoming a place for underprivileged students to connect to the outside world and to know the global environment. Presently it has nearly 500 new books, mainly to stimulate kids to study science and technology. This knowledge centre also acts as a book bank for students, where they can borrow a complete book set for a certain academic year, reducing the economic burden on the families.

It also has a computer room. This new computer has nearly 100 hours of education based software, online school lessons from renowned teachers across India, and a few freely available motivational movies. This computer centre is also used to teach basic computers to the children. "Apart from books and computers, the library also receives at least five newspapers in different languages and a few magazines for kids. Aadhaar even appointed a full time librarian, who is physically challenged. The knowledge centre is creating a very good awareness about education in the village and nearby areas; it is a small step towards bridging the gap between the booming Indian economy and impoverished villages", says Agrawal with optimism and enthusiasm.

Aadhaar knowledge center

2005/2: A unique dance night as the UT rocks to bhangra

By: Amol Thakre
Date: UT news, Thursday 17 Maart 2005 - (Jaargang: 40, Nr. 10)
Weblink: http://www.utnieuws.utwente.nl/new/?artikel_id=11932

Friday, March 11, a dull, rainy day was metamorphosing into an exciting evening. The Vrijhof Agora was rocking to the beat of Indian folk music and dance called bhangra, during a fund raiser organized by AADHAAR, for tsunami rehabilitation efforts in India.

It has been almost three months, since tsunami waves caused an unprecedented catastrophe of devastating ferocity, killing more than 300,000 people, and leaving millions in disbelief and disarray. From all parts of the globe came a unique exhibition of human generosity. Although immediate relief efforts were assured by the international help, long-term rehabilitation of the affected areas still looks a distant milestone.

AADHAAR (An Association for the Development of Health and Academic Awareness), an organization founded by the UT students, decided it was time to respond to the needs of the region. So, the group organized a "Bhangra Night" fund raiser. Bhangra is a lively form of folk music and dance, originating in Punjab, a northern state of India.

After a small presentation about AADHAAR and its tsunami relief activities, the evening rolled on with a live performance on dholdrum (a large two-sided instrument typically played along with dance) and bhangra dance by Punjabi boys from Amsterdam.

Surprised by the good turn out of local Surinam people, Pramod Agrawal, as AADHAAR volunteer declared: "Bhangra Night is more than a fund raiser. Apart from spreading traditional cultural heritage across the borders, it can also serve a bridge for relations between the Indian and Surinam communities."

"It is a great party, very well organized, I like the food here, it's good and inexpensive," said Christiano Trionfetti, an Italian PhD student at the UT. Another Italian face commonly seen at Indian parties, PhD candidate Francesca Romana de Risi exclaimed, "It's wonderful to be here, with its vibrant and diverse culture and food, Indian parties are always entertaining. More of these kinds of events should be organized, to spread the flavor of Indian culture, like showing an Indian movie."

A second dance performance from Punjabi boys set the dance floor on fire, with pure folk music and meandering melodies, some of the enthusiasts from the audience came on stage and started dancing. A few minutes later, more people were on the dance floor than in the chairs.

Sunniva Pram, a Norwegian physiotherapy student at the Hogeschool, says: "Initially I was sitting and trying to learn, but with rhythm and instrumental music in the atmosphere, it was difficult to resist for long. With easy steps and lively moves, bhangra can be a great party dance."

Not only was it was a fun-filled evening, but all the money collected at the event will go into rehabilitation efforts in tsunami affected areas in India.

2005/1: In the wake of the tsunami

By: Kristin Zimmerman
Date: UT news, Thursday 13 Januari 2005 - (Jaargang: 40, Nr. 2)
Weblink: http://www.utnieuws.utwente.nl/new/?artikel_id=12287

The family of Rusdha Muharar, a PhD student in Telecommunications Engineering who arrived at the UT just three months ago, had taken up residence in Banda Aceh eighteen months ago. When he first learned on the natural disaster, initial reports gave 500 deaths. He was concerned enough to call home - unsuccessfully - but did not begin to worry until ensuing reports showed the rising death toll.

Three days later, an SMS from a cousin in Banda Aceh that Muharar's nuclear family was alive allayed some fears. Feeling alone and helpless, he continued in vain to try to reach his mother and sisters. Finally, he made contact with them on Saturday, January 1.

According to Muharar, the women were starting their day when the waist-high water began pouring in. They fled to the local mosque - because it has two floors - and lived there for a couple of days; next, they found refuge with relatives. When Muharar finally reached them, they had left Banda Aceh and were making their way to his hometown of Tapaktuan, South Aceh. Because communication remains difficult, Muharar can rarely contact his family, but takes comfort in the fact that they survived the tsunami.

His mother and sisters traveled with one of Muharar's cousins who had a harrowing escape from the violent waves of the tsunami. That morning the university student was riding his motorcycle to the beachside neighborhood of Uleeheu where he was to work on his practicum. Suddenly he saw a wave of water `as high as a palm tree' coming at him. He turned around and gunned the motorcycle. Each time he looked back, the giant wave was still following him. He told Muharar it was just like in a movie. Around him, to his horror, he saw people being swept away and buildings collapsing. Miraculously the cousin escaped unharmed. The area of Uleeheu, however, was pulverized.

Muharar's roommate, Saiful, is also from the Aceh province. He left on Friday, December 31 for Indonesia to learn the fate of his family who were living in Meulahboh, another city decimated by the tsunami. Sunday, January 2, he sent Muharar an SMS telling him that he had found his wife and family in good condition.

These are stories of the lucky survivors of the fury of the tsunami. Their fate, however, remains uncertain. Muharar estimates that it will take years, maybe even a decade, to restore the Aceh province to what it once was. Beyond essential matters like food and housing, Muharar points out logistical issues that seem trivial in a life and death situation, but which complicate one's subsequent survival. For instance, his family lost all forms of identity - from birth certificates to college diplomas. One sister lost her job because the place of work was destroyed by the tsunami. Another sister was studying at the Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh. The university remains intact, but many of its lecturers and students are dead or reported missing. How a community picks itself up after such a colossal disaster is mind-boggling.

At the UT, Muharar and other Indonesian students are working to support the relief effort. PhD student Sri Nurdiati, the coordinator for the Netherlands Chapter of KZIS-Isnet, a network of Muslim students from Indonesia all over the world, is leading the campaign. Nurdiati is grateful for the 8000 euros already collected, ninety percent of which have been used in remote areas of Aceh which remain neglected by the media and, thus, most international relief organizations. To learn more about Aceh Care Fund, visit: http://kzisbelandapeduliaceh.blogspot.com/

Concerning the plight of Indians working or studying at the UT, Shankara Narayanan, an active member of the UT Indian community, shares good news, "As far as my knowledge goes, none of the UT Indians were affected by the Tsunami. However, the family of Mr. B.A. Balaji Adhimoolam, a TNW PhD student, had it close. The sea stopped just 50 meters in front of their house in Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu. Thankfully, his family members were safe inside the house."

Manish Arora, a representative of AADHAAR (An Association for the Development of Health and Academic Awareness in Rural India), reports that the group is working with like-minded organizations in western Holland - FCCI (Foundation for Critical Choices for India) and NIA (Netherlands India Institute), to name a few - to construct a building to serve the dual purpose of school and rehabilitation center for women and children affected by the tsunami in the Tamil Nadu state. A fundraiser will take place in the coming months; see the AADHAAR website (http://www.aadhaar.com/) for details as to how to make a contribution to Tsunami Relief Fund India.

The media have directed most of their attention to Indonesia, India, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Other regions, however, also suffered damage as a result of the tsunami. One tiny country virtually overlooked is the Seychelle Islands, north of Madagascar. Although there were no casualities, four-meter high tidal waves and subsequent monsoon rains left a trail of infrastructural destruction. Vinod Morar, an employee of the TSM Business School, knows the Seychelles well, as his partner, Gerda Didon, is Seychellois. Didon expresses relief that her family's homes were spared. Like many expatriates in her position, she says, "I would surely want to go back home even if there is hardly anything I can do."

In the wake of the tsunami, Didon ponders, "Given what happened, I will try and complain less now and learn more how to appreciate life, which is so fragile."

Destruction of the tsunami

A model airplane surrounded by tsunami. Photo taken by Mr. Tifatul Sembiring in Aceh.

2004/2: Celebrating Diwali: An international event

By: Deepa Talasila
Date: UT news, Thursday 18 November 2004 -( 39, Nr. 35)
Weblink: http://www.utnieuws.utwente.nl/new/?artikel_id=27596

On the cold evening of November 14, Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, brought much needed warmth to the 150 odd guests who attended the Diwali gala in the Bastille. Every year there is the usual sprinkling of international faces, but this year the organizers made a conscious effort to make Diwali an international event.

Diwali celebration

Srininvas Vanapalli, (TNW) one of the main organizers says, "My international friends showed a lot of interest in India, but they were aware only of India's weaknesses as portrayed in the media. I had a burning desire to showcase our strengths and beauty, hence we internationalized Diwali this year". It is believed that "Diwali" is a corruption of the word "Deepavali," the literal meaning of which in Sanskrit is "a row of lamps." Filling little clay lamps with oil and wick and lighting them all over the house is a tradition that is synonymous with Diwali. As is the custom, the celebration in the Bastille began with a prayer to the Indian Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, for blessings of prosperity for everyone. The cultural events commenced with Indian singers belting out a popular love duet, lending the right ambiance. The next offering was a skit in the Indian national language, Hindi, about an Indian's journey to hell and the mythological characters like the God of Death he encounters. The international guests were given the background so that they could also appreciate the events. The skit was written and directed by Makarand Pimplapure (TNW).

This was followed by an instrumental recital by Supriyo Chatterjea (EWI), a Singaporean of Indian origin on the "tabla" (Indian drums) and Aditya Mehendale (EWI) on the flute. Their second song revved up the hitherto slow tempo with a fusion dance which had Indian, Western and Arabic influences had the audience whistling and gasping for more. Vasughi Sundramurthy, a Malaysian of Indian origin (EWI), the principal dancer of the quartet, attended belly-dancing classes during her four-month project work in the USA and was more than willing to display those delicious moves.

After feasting their eyes on Indian culture, the audience was invited for a gustatory feast. AADHAAR, a charity organization formed by students at the UT, had laid out a mouth-watering array of Indian dishes. In an arrangement with the organizers, an amount of 8 euros out of the 12 euros (ticket price) will be diverted towards charity causes in India. Cooking for 150 people is no joke for students, so the wise AADHAAR volunteer, Pramod Agarwal (TNW), consulted a catering service in India for useful tips and advice. It certainly paid off, with many international guests requesting for recipes. Another highlight of the evening was a rocking performance by the band "Whipp'em and the Dandies" in which our very own Professor Willem Vos (TNW) moonlights as a drummer. Their rendition of the number "Smooth" was indeed very smooth.

The organizers definitely saved the best for last: a free-for-all dance party. A compilation of Hindi and English numbers worked their charm on the audience as alternately Western, Indian and Arabic dance moves were displayed on the dance floor by one and all. One Dutch AADHAAR volunteer made a curious observation, "The Indian men and women were dancing separately in their own circles. That was rather strange to me." Despite a few shortcomings - like lack of subtitles for the Hindi play, inadequate background on the mythology of Diwali itself, noisy latecomers and a less than perfect sound system - it appeared that nearly everyone was able to find something that sparked their Diwali.

2004/1: Christmas charity drive bears fruit

By: Deepa Talasila
Date: UT news, Thursday 23 September 2004 - (Jaargang: 39, Nr. 28)
Weblink: http://www.utnieuws.utwente.nl/new/?artikel_id=27909

When three hundred and fifty-six underprivileged children belonging to Soundad - a village in the central part of India - celebrated August 15 (Indian Independence Day) this year, their chests swelled with pride and dignity, attributes that have-not's in developing countries often have to make do without.

How exactly does the UT fit into the above scene? AADHAAR (An Association for the Development of Health and Academic Awareness in Rural India), a voluntary organization that collects funds and donates them to pressing causes in India, was formed at the UT by Indian students in 1997. It has around 70 members of Indian, Dutch and other nationalities. AADHAAR receives donations through regular member contributions and through special events. For instance, the Indian Food festival and Bollywood movie show last September at ITC International, where volunteers teased the taste buds of eighty-five attendees with popular Indian curries and later showed them the delights of Bollywood, all for a mere 12 euros. The funds collected are used primarily for children's education and women's welfare in India. As the students were brainstorming different ways of generating funds, an idea came to a volunteer. Many times, Christmas presents given to students and staff remain unused, so why not give them the choice of diverting the funds allocated for these presents towards charity?

After receiving a positive response from Mr. W.H. Fij, Managing Director, TNW to go ahead with this unique idea, AADHAAR volunteers mailed students and staff primarily from the Chemical Technology department requesting that their Christmas presents to given away for charity. The response they received was overwhelming. The collections amounted to around 3000 euros, a substantial figure. It was decided by the authorities to divide the amount equally between three organizations. The money that AADHAAR received was spent on distributing school uniforms to school children in Soundad on Independence Day. AADHAAR volunteer Pramod Agrawal, an AIO from TNW, who was born and raised in Soundad says, "Previously these children did not have any clothes at all. The school uniforms they received will be used by them throughout the day. We have taken care to see that the uniforms are large-sized so that they can used for several years. The children of Soundad express their gratitude to everybody who helped (see photo) and are looking forward to attending school with newfound drive. Isn't it incredible that a meager amount of 1.50 euros (cost per uniform) can have such a dramatic impact?" Agrawal hopes to repeat the Christmas charity drive this year and explore the possibility of extending it to other faculties as well.

School in Soundad

Meanwhile at the other end of the world in Cusco, Peru, voluntary worker Dolores of the Children of the Sun project had been struggling to cope with the burgeoning number of street children being sheltered at her own house. Maria Friedeman-de Korte, Financial Department (Faculty of Science & Technology) happened to be in the right place at the right time. She had taken a three-month sabbatical at the end of 2001 to undertake voluntary work. A mother of five daughters, she felt the urge to provide opportunities which her own children enjoyed so freely to the less fortunate. Dolores managed to get hold of a dilapidated building but lacked the funds for chairs, tables or other necessary facilities. Armed with funds Friedeman-de Korte had collected from family, friends and colleagues' and loads of determination, the two women made the school as functional as possible. They also managed to arrange a Bread&Soup scheme which was the only meal of the day for most children. Friedeman-de Korte has been visiting Cusco every year ever since and the school now has running water and in-house shower and toilet facilities. The funds received last Christmas were spent on a priceless piece of paper: a birth certificate. Says Friedeman-de Korte, "It is not possible to admit a child to school without a birth certificate and it is an expense that is avoided by most of these working children. So we helped out with part of the funds and the remaining is being used on uniforms, books and medicines at the school."

Doctors without Borders, the international physicians' group that stays in after the Red Cross has moved out of war torn areas, was the final recipient of the UT Christmas charity drive.

The above instances are striking testaments to how far a small gesture can go. Ultimately, government corruption and bureaucracy, oft-repeated root causes of the plight of the underprivileged, remain just words in the face of dedicated initiatives taken by people themselves. To learn more about AADHAAR, visit www.aadhaar.com and attend its orientation talk on Friday, October 1st at 1:00 pm in Hogekamp T5.

2003: Small contribution, big difference

By: Deepa Talasila
Date: UT news, Thursday 26th June 2003 (28, number 21)
Weblink: http://www.utnieuws.utwente.nl/new/?artikel_id=26585

Bread 1.15, juice 1.77, vegetables 4.50, fruits 3.05...hmm, spent around 12 euros. Reads like one of your regular expense bills? To an underpriveleged child in rural India, 12 euros represents food, clothing and education...a different and better life. Six years back, the UT was the breeding ground for an idea to transform lives. In "Aadhaar", Hindi for support, a group of people at the UT works towards supporting poor people in India achieving a better life.

U. Parasu Veera working in the faculty of TNW explains, "started in 1997 by two Indian students studying here it has grown to 20 volunteers today. Students find it difficult to devote time to meet and discuss ideas due to work pressures. I think therefore that our current volunteers are a highly committed lot. Expanding our membership is a continuous challenge." Aadhaar receives a sizeable contribution from Indians as well as others. Parasu adds: "We are grateful to people like professor. Heesink and professor Versteeg (TNW) who donated the entire prize money they received at UDCT in India to Aadhaar. We also have couples donating their marriage gifts to us!"

Aadhaar supports a variety of schemes a Child Adoption Scheme aims to emancipate 26 children from the evil of illiteracy. It invests 12 euros a month towards the cost of food, clothing, accommodation and primary education of a single child. It also supports organisations like Vivekanand Seva Mandal (VSM): walking a few kilometers barefoot to the nearest health center is common in rural India. VSM is responsible for setting up medical centres and providing free medicine as far as possible.

Among the underprivileged, women suffer the worst fate with respect to education and opportunities. Aadhaar aligns them with mainstream society by providing vocational training in nursing, tailoring, knitting, setting up small scale businesses in, for example, horticulture.

Children in a village

One of its recent projects, supported by the funds raised from last year's Christmas gift by the faculty of TNW, is a knowledge center in Soundad, a small village in the state of Maharastra in central India. It is a very impoverished village with few educational facilities and is home to some very old and poor tribes. Most of the families living there are unable to provide their children even the basic educational needs for books, stationary etc. That's where this idea of developing a knowledge center can play an important role in social transformation.

Another organisation supported by Aadhaar is Asha Jyoti. Promoting independence and self-sufficiency among mentally-challenged people is their strength. Aadhaar supports three specially trained teachers who help these people to lead a dignified life.

Vishwas Dindore (TNW) is in the midst of writing his thesis. He says, "alumni of the UT continue to play a significant role in our mission. One of the founding members is working in India and provides feedback on the progress and financial state of affairs. On a personal level, it is tremendously satisfying to provide the blessing of education to those deprived." His colleagues Pranay Darda and Pramod Agrawal echo similar feelings, "this is our way of connecting with India."

For more information go to www.aadhaar.com.