A Ray Of Hope: This US-Based NGO Is Spreading Education Among Underprivileged Kids In India
Sumanti Sen India
January 24th, 2019 / 2:18 PM
Education is one of the most important means to shape a child into a respectable human being. That is what Asha for Education aims at, to provide education to children, and to mould them into independent individuals.
Asha for Education is a US-based non-profit voluntary organization, dedicated to promoting literacy among children, particularly the poor and the underprivileged, in India. It was founded in 1991 in Berkeley, and has now grown to a strength of about 48 chapters in North America, 12 in India, six in Europe and one in Canada.
“Today, there are more than 1,000 active volunteers and several supporters volunteering in these 67 Asha chapters worldwide. Asha’s work is strongly based on the conviction that an educated population is a critical prerequisite, and an effective catalyst, for social and economic progress,” said Rachana Agrawal, a 24-year-old PhD student at Purdue, who is involved with the NGO, in conversation with The Logical Indian.
How the NGO runs
People in the chapters, who work for free as volunteers in each of these chapters, take a personal interest in identifying education-related projects in India and supporting them through funds and other means. All the donations go to the NGOs in India as there are no overhead costs of running the organization.
Talking specifically about the Purdue chapter, Rachana said, “Asha Purdue Chapter at the Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, has more than 30 volunteers actively involved in fund-raising activities, planning, and funding new educational projects in India. Almost all of these volunteers are full-time students or professors who take time out of their busy schedules and carry out Asha’s activities. Perhaps, more important than these numbers is the personal leadership that the volunteers take in carrying out Asha’s activities.”
Involvement with Asha has produced in these volunteers an awareness about developmental issues in India and has inspired a whole range of volunteers to get involved in other social causes. There has also been an increased emphasis on the formation of more chapters in India, called Asha Centers, so as to draw upon the collective energy and experience of part-time and full-time volunteers in India and to build closer bonds with our projects.
“These Asha centres also serve to network like-minded individuals, in addition to pioneering bold new initiatives in the field of education. Thus, Asha, while making a difference in the lives of underprivileged children of India, is also preparing a group of people who are more socially aware and socially responsible in their lives,” Rachana said.
Asha Purdue has supported about 15 projects since its inception. The student volunteers organize fundraising and social awareness events round the year.
NGOs that Asha supports
Among the NGOs Asha supports is Diksha Foundation – KHEL Project in Patna which aims to provide holistic education to children and youth from low-income communities. It also aims to make the learning spaces inclusive, vibrant and violence-free so that children can have exhilarating and transformative learning experiences.
“Then there is Manasa Institute of Child Health and Disability Studies in Hyderabad, which is a special school for the mentally challenged that serves around 80 plus children at present. It promotes child health and rights, inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities and families and provides free services, said Rachana.
The son of Mrs Rajyalaxmi, Shishir Kumar was diagnosed with Dandy-Walker syndrome when he was just seven-month-old. Dandy-Walker syndrome is a rare group of congenital brain malformations. He could neither sit nor stand. Later it was discovered that he also had Moderate Intellectual Disability and Speech and Language Impairment. After visiting many doctors and rehab centres at the age of six, Shishir was brought to Manasa Institute.
“Here the treatment involved Physical therapy, Speech and Language therapy and Special Education from over past three years. Gradually, Mrs Rajyalaxmi found interest in special education and she is now pursuing B.Ed. Special Education (MR) while working in Manasa Special School as an Assistant Teacher. Now, Shishir is able to walk on his own and and take care of himself. This year, he is ready for inclusive education,” Rachana said.
SAIS Basundhara in Cuttack is a residential school for orphaned and abandoned children, and its prime objective is to provide a normal childhood to them, along with qualitative teaching to the kids of Basundhara.
Nari Gunjan in collaboration with Aavishkaar aims to empower women of Musahar community through education, by nurturing a sense of excitement and curiosity in school-age community through hands-on experiences and experiments.
Vidya HelpLine is one of the flagship projects of Nirmaan Organization, providing career guidance to students. So far the project has supported more than 1.6 Lakh rural students and dropouts through various innovative services.
“Education is very important for a person to achieve what they want in life. Whatever your ambition is, education will help you go forward. Through Asha, we want to provide a ray of hope to the kids by helping them get educated and achieve their goal in life,” Rachana said.
The Logical Indian appreciates the members of Asha for Education for their honest effort.
Written by : Sumanti Sen
Edited by : Poorbita Bagchi