Speakers: Neel Chadha, Nootan Kumar & Roshan Abraham
University of Ottawa Students
Date of the Event: July 26, 2009

Topic: "Making a difference for villages in India" — A youth Initiative under a S. A. V. E. (Students Aiding Village Empowerment) program

Neel Chadha

Neel Chadha is student at the University of Ottawa, entering his fourth year of Health Sciences. He is an active member of the student federation, and has served as president of two student clubs as well as member of the Health Sciences executive committee. A passionate athlete, Neel has played soccer, hockey, volleyball and basketball at competitive levels. He was part of a two time silver medalist soccer club at the Ontario championships, while attending high school at Ashbury College. Neel is a wholehearted admirer of the vast Indian culture and enjoys reading about the Mughal Era, an integral part of Indian history. He is also addicted to watching Bollywood films and as a result, has picked up Bollywood dancing, performing at various shows at the University of Ottawa. Last, but certainly not least, Neel is the founder of Students Aiding Village Empowerment, an organization dedicated to helping villages achieve sustainable development in India.

Nootan Kumar

Nootan is a Masters student in her first year in the School of International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa. A mechanical engineer, ESL teacher and Applied Linguistics scholar, Nootan is, above all else, a passionate student of life and a devoted believer in service to society. Throughout the years she has been actively involved in various organizations such as student council, environmental committees and community associations. Since 2008, Nootan has been teaching Yoga and Pranayama as an assistant teacher on a voluntary basis with Patanjali Yogpeeth Canada, whose goal is “health for humanity”. A former Bharata Natyam dancer, Nootan is currently learning Hindustani classical singing in her spare time. Finally, but most importantly, in S.A.V.E. Nootan has found a dynamic group of like-minded students and an exciting commitment that allows her the opportunity to apply her diverse set of experiences and interests to the benefit not just of people in need, but of her ancestral land, India.

Roshan Abraham

Roshan Abraham is a fourth year undergraduate student in BioPharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Ottawa. An avid sportsman, Roshan has found an interest in a myriad of activities including golf, hockey, soccer, and basketball. He has also immersed himself in music since childhood, having participated in several jazz and concert bands that have competed and won at the national level. Furthermore, he has headlined a rock band as a musician and a singer-songwriter since high school, traveling to various parts of eastern Ontario in the process. He has also dedicated 5 years to a local math tutoring organization, and has volunteered with such non-profit organizations as CNIB and the Ottawa Hospital. Having visited and volunteered in parts of India, Roshan has found his niche with SAVE, an organization dedicated to sustainable development in villages all across India.

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Synopsis of the Talk on "Making a difference for villages in India"

— A youth Initiative under a S. A. V. E. (Students Aiding Village Empowerment) program

S.A.V.E.’s inception dates back to July 2007 when Neel visited India for a family vacation. His father enjoyed doing social work in nearby villages and decided to take Neel along this time around. During his visit, he was devastated by the living conditions of one particular village. However, he was struck by an image of two girls having the times of their lives with nothing but a tree branch and some dirt to play hopscotch in. Neel also noticed their enthusiastic aptitude to learn, and as a result, wanted to help. After sharing his story with some peers, Neel and his peers founded S.A.V.E. to try and empower villagers with education and the basic necessities of life.

Students Aiding Village Empowerment is an organization run by students at the University of Ottawa dedicated to empowering disadvantaged villages through sustainable development programs. S.A.V.E. aims to improve healthcare, education and sanitation within chosen villages. S.A.V.E. is currently working on a development project in the village of Mohanpura, which is located in Rajasthan, India. S.A.V.E. is motivated by a belief that all people regardless of age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status are capable of making a difference in the world.

S.A.V.E. has been a part of over 10 fundraising and awareness campaigns since its inception, and has raised $15 000 as a result. S.A.V.E. has focused all of its efforts on repairing the school from its initial fundraising. S.A.V.E. has provided the Mohanpura school furniture for every classroom, and provided funds to build toilets, install electrical fittings and tube lights in the school. S.A.V.E. has also informed local government officials who are addressing the water problem and building a playing field for the kids. S.A.V.E. is currently working on water filtration and sanitation in the village.

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