This weekend, yoga aficionados from as far away as Hong Kong and Australia will be contorting their bodies into Warrior and Downward Facing Dog poses in solidarity for "Namaste India", an event to raise money for life skills support, mentoring and secondary school education for Indian girls.
The Westchester chapter of Room to Read—a nine-year-old global organization that works to build literacy and gender equality in education in Asia and Africa—has asked two yoga teachers to participate in the event this Saturday, June 16.
In Mamaroneck, yoga teacher Franklin Shire will be holding a special basic yoga class atfrom noon-1 p.m. that is open to the public. And, in New Rochelle, a Vinyasa/Hatha yoga class will be held at at 12:30 p.m. Donations to Room to Read’s Girl’s Education Program in India are recommended.
Why did the organization choose yoga as the theme of their fundraiser?
“There’s an emphasis on mindfulness…it brings awareness to global issues,” said Karen Khor, a spokesperson for the organization.
Despite India’s entry into the global economy, there remains a prevailing cultural bias toward boys over girls. According to a recent article in The Telegraph, female infanticide is still alive and well with some mothers aborting their pregnancies when they find out they are carrying girls. Many parents also resent paying for a girl’s education since she will eventually marry and leave the household, and so career prospects for girls, outside of the domestic realm, are much more limited.
The Namaste India event—involving 25 Room to Read Chapters globally—hopes to collectively raise $37,500 to give 150 girls a one-year scholarship to secondary school, as well as mentoring and life skills support, said Khor.
According to the Room to Read website, approximately 40 percent of girls drop out before secondary school, a critical time in their educational careers.
And, with 35 percent of the Indian population illiterate, by not educating girls, “this continues the whole cycle of poverty and illiteracy,” said Khor.
Room to Read has worked in the following Indian states according to their website: Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand. Since 2003, they have established 4,970 libraries and 3,913 girls have participated in education programs.
For more information on Room to Read's Westchester chapter please visit their website here.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article indicated that the Westchester chapter of Room to Read's fundraising goal was $37,500 for the event; the $37,500 is a collective goal for the 25 chapters participating globally in Namaste India. Patch regrets the error.