At a recent West Hollywood event to launch the new #SheMustCount campaign, guests including Hollywood stars sponsored 30 underprivileged girls from Vrindavan, India, to attend Food For Life’s Sandipani Muni school. Altogether $75,000 was raised throughout the evening.
Host Marie Avgeropoulos, star of the popular U.S. TV series The 100, had spent a week in Vrindavan with Sandipani Muni School director Rupa Raghunath Das, trying to understand the problems Brijabasi girls face. While there, she filmed a six-part documentary for Without Exception Films.
Avgeropoulos premiered two of the short films in the series at the event, giving guests like actor Andy Garcia an insight into the lives and struggles of girls trying to get an education in rural India, and the threats -- such as child marriage -- faced by many of them.
Guests were also treated to an exhibition of beautiful limited canvas prints by Ineke Zondag, from her collection of photographs of life and children in Vrindavan during years of visits to the area.
Zondag, who was in attendance, had the opportunity to talk to prospective sponors about her photographs and share the stories behind them.
“We would like to extend a special thank you to theLubert Family, Charlotte and Danny Lubertwho were the main pillar of support and inspiration behind the campaign,” says Rupa Raghunath. “We’d also like to thank Marie Avgeropoulos and the entire team at Without Exception Films. Please know that all the girls here at FFLV are applauding your remarkable efforts. This will change the lives of so many girls forever.”
Ultimately the #SheMustCount campaign aims to raise funds to support the education of a thousand more girls at the three Sandipani Muni Schools in Vrindavan. Currently the schools provide free education, healthy meals and medical care for 1,500 girls from kindergarten to twelveth grade, but have a capacity for 3,000.
The Sandipani Muni Schools and Rupa Raghunath’s sincere efforts to help people in Lord Krishna’s birthplace have attracted a lot of support in recent years. The Grammy-nominated kirtan album, Bhakti Without Borders, has been contributing all of its profits to the schools. And Dubai-based property developer The First GROUP enlisted legendary English footballer Michael Owen in a charity challenge that raised $21,000.
The schools follow the U.P. Board of Education standards in academics and also provide spiritual and vocational training for the girls.
Thirty-five students completed 12th grade this year and passed with top marks, paving their way to go on to university, after which they will be able to get good, well-paying jobs.
“Many of them have a chance to pull their whole family out of the slums of Vrindavan and the cycle of poverty and desperation,” Rupa Raghunath says.
Watch Marie Avgeropoulos’ #SheMust Count series of short films here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQD75nn_Z2Q
If you would like to sponsor a girl or donate towards the campaign, click here: http://us.fflv.org/donate/
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