Shanti Fund, a Long Island based charitable organization, is committed to enlightenment and peace through education. Most of its members are Indian-Americans who reside in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, collectively known as Long Island. Among its many activities, Volunteers of Shanti Fund have for half a dozen years invited prominent persons to a monthly breakfast meeting to address community members on subjects of their expertise. In addition, every year Volunteers of Shanti Fund get involved in one important project.....
• In 1993, Volunteers of Shanti Fund raised $10,000 in less than two weeks for earthquake relief work in Maharashtra State (Bombay, now Mumbai, being the capital) of India.
• In 1996 through substantial fund raising ($100,000), India Study Center at SUNY Stony Brook, the first of its kind, became a reality.
• In 1997 Shanti Fund supported second generation Indian-Americans studying at Ivy League colleges. They have established the Vision World-Wide organization. Every year Vision World-Wide sends a sizable delegation of students to India during the summer to train college students in the prevention and spread of the horrible disease, AIDS. Shanti Fund sponsored their presentation where spontaneously enough money was raised to cover the cost of 10 students out of 15, primarily for their air travel cost to India.
• In 1997 New York State instituted a new scholarship program, and befitting its mission, 27 Indian-American students were honored by Shanti Fund with financial awards.
• During 1997-1998 a year-long celebration was held to recognize the achievements of 50 years since the Independence of India (August 15, 1947).
• In 1998 the Suffolk County Government (County Legislators and Executive) honored Shanti Fund by selecting it to memorialize the principles and mission of Mahatma Gandhi on Long Island (work in progress; Gandhi statue unveiled 1999; Gandhi Memorial Project in design and fund raising stage).
• In 1999 Shanti Fund supported Peace Abbey, a Massachusetts-based organization to honor and memorialize the “Unknown Civilians” killed in wars. An extremely heavy and large stone memorial, was pulled by ten volunteers at a time from Boston to Washington, D.C. This was done on a principle similar to that of the Salt March (3/12/1930 – 200 miles) undertaken by Gandhi.
• In 2000 Shanti Fund sponsored two teachers from India to the USA as part of the Teachers’ Exchange Program under which teachers from the USA and India are invited to compare and exchange ideas on each other’s educational system.
• On January 26, 1950 India became the largest democracy by adopting the Constitution and proclaiming herself a Sovereign Republic. January 26 is usually a day of joy and celebration, except in 2001. On that day the worst earthquake ever to hit the Gujarat state (birthplace of Gandhi) of India toppled high rise buildings in Ahmedabad and destroyed more than 80% of the homes in Bhuj, the epicenter of this earthquake. Shanti Fund, along with the on-going work of the Gandhi Memorial, launched a fund raising campaign having a modest goal of $25,000, but actually raised $50,000. With matching funds of $50,000 from American India Foundation, the total relief fund amounted to $100,000.
• In 2002 Shanti Fund supported a group of 18 visiting youngsters from Ahmedabad, India. These teenagers (selected from hundreds of disadvantaged – born out of wedlock, orphaned, etc.) are being trained to have a meaningful life by Manav Sadhna organization at Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad. They created various dance dramas called EKTA (unity) based on the lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. They made the presentation throughout 25 major metropolitan areas of the United States, including on Long Island at Port Jefferson Middle School and High School.
• In 2003, Volunteers of Shanti Fund undertook one of the longest events, if not the longest event ever by Indian-Americans on Long Island. The more than two-week event included two unique photo exhibits – one from Washington, D.C. (www.gahdhi.mc.org) and the other from Gandhi Serve Foundation, Berlin, Germany (www.gandhiserve.org) – as well as daily events on October 2, 3, and 4, 2003.
• In 2004, more than a dozen institutions, including area schools, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and socio-cultural organizations participated in one of the biggest birthday celebrations ever held to honor the work and mission of Mahatma Gandhi.
• In 2005, Shanti Fund set up the Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund. With unexpected support and cooperation from other organizations, $60,000 was raised. As in the previous years, the celebration of Gandhiji’s birthday was a three-day event in 2005, with the addition of the Peace Walk around the H. L. Dennison Building in Hauppauge. The idea is to instill the value of peaceful actions as was the Salt March by Gandhiji to protest the burdensome taxes and Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights March to protest various forms of discrimination. A 64-page souvenir was published to memorialize Gandhiji’s legacy.
• In 2006, the first rst ever Visa Camp was held at Hicksville. American citizens in general and Indian-Americans in particular face hardship in securing a visa to travel to India. For one day, Saturday, June 17, 2006, the Visa Wing of the Indian Consulate at New York came to Long Island to issue visas. Praises and congratulations were multiplied at the Visa Camp by simultaneously hosting a Voter Registration Drive (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) as well as a rare photo exhibit of Gandhiji. Due to its success another Visa Camp was held on November 18, 2006.
• For the first time a 12-page Newsletter was published.
• One of the best and most unique opportunities was presented to the Volunteers of Shanti Fund when a 40-year old organization ACYPL (The American Council of Young Political Leaders), supported in part by the U.S. Department of State and based in Washington D.C., wanted to have Shanti Fund host the ten young leaders from India and Pakistan for a week from September 17 to September 22, 2006. Five days of a hectic program began with Monday in Nassau County (Judiciary, Medical College, sightseeing), Tuesday in Suffolk County (Kings Park schools, County Legislature, County Clerk, Stony Brook University India Study Center, County Executive, Gandhi Memorial, Political Party caucus participation), and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in New York City (United Nations, World Trade Center 9-11 Memorial, U.S. Mission at U.N., New York City Hall, financial institutions, etc.). The culmination was a Dinner Reception hosted in their honor on September 21, 2006 which coincidentally happened to be the International Peace Day. It was best summed up by the coordinator of ACYPL, Mr. Brendan Sullivan, in his thank you note.
Just a quick note of thanks for organizing that incredible reception (a true highlight of their entire US visit) for our India-Pakistan delegation last month and for all of your other assistance in putting together the program. You really went all out for which I am extremely appreciative. Thank you for everything - your support really means a lot.”
• It was truly a memorable get together with emotions and sentiments difficult to describe but permanently etched in the hearts and minds of those who were fortunate enough to attend. As in the previous years, the Celebration of Gandhiji’s Birthday on October 2 remains a high point for instilling Gandhian Peace values to youngsters in many different and creative ways. This year we invited a leading Gandhian from India, Mr. Prasad, to be the keynote speaker on October 2, 2006 in addition to continuing the other activities of a Poster Competition, Debate Competitions, Prayers, etc.
• Volunteers of Shanti Fund organized and supported the first ever Health Fair by the Asian-American Advisory Board of the Suffolk County Executive on September 17, 2006.
• And for the first time ever, with the magnanimous generosity of anonymous donors, 2007 Shanti Fund calendar was published.
• In 2007 with more support, a bigger and better 2008 Shanti Fund calendar was published. In addition to the annual celebration of Gandhiji’s birthday involving many students from different schools and organizations, the reading and book signing of a Gandhian and Ambassador P. A. Nazareth’s “Gandhi’s Outstanding Leadership” was held at Global Harmony House in Great Neck.
• In 2008 with more support in terms of donations and advertisements, it become possible to print more than double the quantity of calendars than previous years. Thus Shanti Fund 2009 calendar has more pages and more artworks by students. Gandhiji’s Birthday celebration was a three day event.