Toronto, Sep 17 : As the Corona pandemic takes increasing toll in India, the Canadian branch of the Indian charity, AIM for SEVA – which builds and runs educational hostels in rural areas – raised more than $550,000 this week through individual donations to rush the money to India.
Anupam Kher, Preity Zinta, Bollywood singer Jonita Gandhi, comedian Atul Khatri, and sports stars P.V. Sindhu and Deepa Malik joined the Indo-Canadian charity’s annual virtual gala to raise money for India’s poor kids.
“We raised more than $2.1 million at our gala last year. But we are still happy to raise this much money this week despite Corona restrictions,” said AIM for SEVA (Canada) president Terry Papneja who is one of the biggest Indian-origin dentists in Canada.
The charity has so far raised over $9.3 million for building educational hostels in rural areas of India to house, feed and educate children from poor families.
It has so far built 27 hostels in different states of India.
“At AIM for SEVA hostels, we are taking care of over 4,000 children – from the age of eight to 18 – on an on-going basis. For 10 years, these kids get free accommodation, food, clothing and education so that their families get out of the cycle of poverty. We also cover all other expenses,” said Papneja who comes from Kareli town in Madhya Pradesh.
Each hostel costs about $290,000 to build and most donors sponsor hostels in the areas of India where they come from, he said.
“Having done well in Canada, most Indians want to give back to their mother country. Toronto businessman Inder Sharma donated two million dollars last year. We are very happy with the response,” Papneja said.
Apart from donations to build hostels, Indo-Canadians also give scholarships to kids at these hostels.
According to Papneja, “This week, a lady donated $150,000 in scholarships for 10 years. Last year, Toronto couple Neelam and Kris Shah gave scholarships worth $100,000 to 20 kids.”
The Indian charity opened its second Canadian chapter in Montreal last year and plans to reach Vancouver and Calgary in the coming years.