Message from Ajit Patra, President 1999 & 2000
For over thirty years, many Bengali families have made northeast Ohio their home. The assimilation of the Bengalis into the greater Cleveland communities, like in many other American cities, has been a successful and a very prosperous process: all of us won the initial struggles and finally established ourselves professionally. We are happy to see many more young families moving into our community; we sincerely hope that all of them will excel and prosper even better than we did. We raised our family, sent our children to school. We formed our Bengali Cultural Society (BCS), one of the most cohesive and vibrant Bengali associations in North America. Year around, we organize many cultural, social and festive events for our members and their American and Indian friends. Over years, we grew very close friendship with one another; we are like a large extended family living in a small geographic area. Every weekend we get together to taste good food served by friendly hosts, discuss politics and stock market, or simply to continue our Bengali aaddaa-tradition.
However all this time we felt a void in our heart; we have had an ardent desire to do some thing ‘permanent or long term’ for serving people back home. All of us donate our fair share in USA to help the poor. Also we have been donating money and other material to support charitable and needy organizations. But we have not done any long term charitable projects at BCS level in India, yet.
Our single most important asset that has helped us in the rapid and successful transition in America is the education (both linguistic and professional) that we have had in India. Indian education system, besides many other services such as transportation and health care etc, had been heavily subsidized through general revenue. All of us have benefited from this generous government help. Now it is our turn and opportunity to help the needy in India. Since we know of what education has done for us, what could be a more appropriate service on our behalf than helping the needy students back home? And now that we can afford to contribute our fair share, formation of an educational fund has become an urgent and most desired issue for us.
On October 23, 1999, our dream became a reality. That evening, the members of our society unanimously and most enthusiastically approved the formation of ‘BCS Scholarship Fund’ and awarding more than thirty partial scholarships to needy but meritorious students attending schools and colleges under the administration of the renowned Ramakrishna Mission (for boys) and Sri Sarada Math (for girls). These scholarships will be administered by these world-renowned organizations. These annual scholarships will be awarded, each year, in the name of Bengali Cultural Society of Cleveland, and will be called ‘BCS Scholarships’.
On May 6, 2000, our Society unanimously elected an Advisory Committee (named ‘Scholarship Committee’) for this scholarship fund. The Scholarship Committee will oversee the management and growth of the scholarship fund. The members of the Scholarship Committee are Dr. Brojesh Pakrashi (Chairperson), Dr. Gopal Saha, Dr. Jayati Rakhit, Mr. Kalyan Dasgupta and Mr. Ajit Patra.
On June 17, 2000, our Society awarded the following scholarships (for the year 2000 – 2001), to the institutions as noted below: 16 partial scholarships to needy students attending Belur and Narendra Pur colleges run under the administration of Ramakrishna Mission, 10 partial scholarships for needy girls students attending Vivekananda Vidyabhavan (college) and 5 partial scholarships for needy girl students attending Sister Nivedita Girls’ School run under the administration of Sri Sarada Math. BCS also made a commitment to renew these yearly scholarships for at least two more years.
This is our first step, much more work remains to be done. Our next goal is to raise more money and form a legal trust fund. Interest earned from this fund will be awarded as BCS Scholarships. The Scholarship Committee is working hard to fulfill this dream. The response from our members has been very generous and encouraging. We sincerely hope that your generous contribution and continued support will enable our society to achieve this goal and take on other worthy projects to help the needy.
Please contribute generously; your kindness will help shape bright futures for many. For more information regarding the scholarship fund and donations, please contact Ajit Patra at email@example.com or Dr Brojesh Pakrashi @ (440) 498-0102, or other members of the Scholarship Committee and the Executive Committee.