Ruth’s Dream lives on….

The inauguration of Asha’s IT Lab at Kalkaji to honour the legacy of Ms. Ruth McKibben, a longtime supporter and true friend of Asha took place on 31st August, 2021.

Ayesha welcomed the gathering that included supporters and Friends from Ireland, Asha students from Kalkaji and the Asha team. Victoria Thampi, Chair FOA (Ireland) recollected nostalgic memories of her association with Ruth as part of the preparation of her visit to Kalkaji and shared her passion, commitment, and energy for the children and the students of Kalkaji.

Paul Kirk from the Methodist College Belfast reminisced about his association with Ruth with a quotation by W.B.Yeats- “Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.” He shared fond memories of his visits to Kalkaji with Ruth and said that the IT Lab will change the lives of the students and provide them new opportunities and access to better resources and help them continue their education, specially during the pandemic. Mr. John McKibben, Ruth’s father, attended the event and wished the project all success to keep alive the memories of his daughter. Prince, a student from Kalkaji described his association with Asha as a child and member of Asha’s Bal Mandal. He shared fond memories of Ruth during her visits to Kalkaji and expressed gratitude for the IT Lab and how it will benefit the students like him in their educational endeavours. Ms Soni, Asha’s Senior Supervisor also remembered her association with Ruth and thanked everyone for the project.

Finally, Mr. Freddy Martin, Asha’s Associate Director in his speech, shared the dreams of Ruth and recollected how the challenges were overcome to complete this project of IT Lab with advanced computers and high-speed internet connectivity from its humble beginnings in 2018. He thanked everyone for their hard work, cooperation and support in making this possible.

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Asha team in Mayapuri practices the Asha value ‘Gratitude’

Hello folks, these days we are having conversations on Gratitude all over Asha. Yesterday I was a part of a moving conversation with some Asha Team members in Mayapuri. CHV Prema said she felt so grateful for the peace and joy she experienced at the Asha center where she always felt surrounded by love. Each time she felt stressed, she would come over to be with her Asha family.

CHV Sumitra said she was grateful for the water she got from the Tanker. Even though she had to fill it in buckets and bring it home everyday, it was much nicer than the salty water she had from a bore well earlier.

Corona Warrior Archana said that she was so grateful her one room home in the slum was saved from a demolition that was carried out right next to her house. She also thought of the many people who lived on pavements and under bridges and was fortunate that she had a home.

Warrior Sunny said he was unspeakably grateful for his books. He had seen so many children who had no books at all. He was in his final year at Delhi University because of his books.

Team Leader Shiny said that she experienced a heart full of gratitude for having learnt how to diagnose and treat all kinds of patients that came to the clinic. She felt so rewarded when each sick person became well through her hands.

CHV Prema felt grateful that she had the wonderful opportunity to make Asha Laddoos, feed young malnourished children and girls, and watch them gain weight.

A lot more was said. Everyone experienced a great deal of joy, positivity, energy and the true love and bonds of a family. They couldn’t wait to come to the Asha Centre each morning.

They are penning down daily Gratitude Reflections, and writing beautiful Gratitude letters to their family and friends.

What a wonderful testament to the power of Gratitude!

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Asha students conclude their virtual internships with Macquarie Group

Every year, Asha students get an opportunity to intern at Embassies, High Commissions, and Multinational companies. Due to the COVID pandemic, our students lost this opportunity last year. However, this year, Macquarie Group Foundation initiated a virtual Community Internship Program for our students. They used the Asha IT Labs for these virtual internships.

During a five-week period, each student received training sessions daily on topics such as MS Office, communication skills, MS Outlook presentation skills, banking fundamentals, resume building, and interview skills.

On the last day of the internship, a Graduation Ceremony was held in the presence of Sandeep Bhatia, Country Head of Macquarie, Manish Desai, Head of Macquarie Gurugram, and other staff.

Thank you, Macquarie for giving Asha students this amazing virtual internship opportunity.

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Asha continues to helps thousands of slum families in distress

Hello folks, the employment situation continues to be disturbing and worrying in the slums. As you may know, there is no job security, no benefits, no social security, no employment protection, and no savings. The economy is in distress due to the pandemic.

Asha continues to identify and help families in all ways possible. We are in this for the long haul, committed to standing with them for as long as it takes for them to get back on their feet. Thank you to everyone of you for your wonderful generosity.

Donate for Asha’s Covid-19 emergency response: https://bit.ly/2tFvdy3

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Asha Women’s Group President Ramwati from Zakhira leads the way in her community

Hello folks, you may have noticed that I haven’t said much about the Asha Womens Groups and how the members have been impacted by Covid. They haven’t been able to have large meetings for nearly two years now, and everyone can sense the loneliness they are experiencing, after being so used to wonderful weekly meetings, and accomplishing such enormous tasks for their communities for years. Many have suffered a great deal of financial distress, and the Asha family has stood with them all through these two years.

Here’s a story of one of them, a 60 year old woman called Ramwati, who lives in Asha’s Zakhira Slum Community. Her life exemplifies the lives of hundreds of women like her.

Ramvati became one of the first Mahila Mandal (Women’s Group) members of Zakhira slum community. She was keen to gain knowledge on healthcare and absorbed all information on health shared by the Asha team during the weekly meetings. She would help share this knowledge with her community members, and became instrumental in highlighting the importance of healthcare interventions such as vaccines, maternal care, tuberculosis treatment, and so on.

In the year 2012, Ramvati was unanimously voted by the other members of the Women’s group to become the new President of the group. Her hard work and dedication had become an inspiration to all the women in her community. The Asha team in Zakhira wholly supported this choice and congratulated Ramvati on her new role that came with much more responsibilities and decision making.’

As President, Ramvati was instrumental in providing leadership to develop the infrastructure in her community. The Women’s Group in Zakhira under her leadership, visited multiple elected politicians representing Zakhira. Drainage systems, sewage networks, bore wells and toilet blocks were constructed. The entire community began to look much cleaner and nicer.

When the pandemic happened, Ramvati’s husband like thousands of other slum dwellers, lost his job as a daily wage labourer. He was earning about 7 dollars a day on the days he got work. But once Covid happened, he had no work, not even for a day. The family had no savings, and Ramvati started to panic. However, the Asha family came to her aid immediately, and provided her with groceries and financial assistance to help the family survive during such terrible times.

Even after the first wave, the future looked bleak for Ramvati’s family. Her husband set out every day in search of opportunities to get work, but as most businesses had faced huge losses, there was hardly anyone looking to hire and provide daily wages. To help her family, Asha continued to provide them with essentials and funds.

No sooner had the first wave receded, than the second wave hit shortly thereafter. Her situation and that of her family got even worse.

Today, the second wave has abated, but has left behind great poverty for her family and many families like her.

Her husband gets work one day a week or once in two weeks. The Asha family continues to provide for them. That’s what family is all about, right?

In spite of facing such serious personal struggles, Ramwati decided to be an Asha Corona Warrior, and a champion, spreading awareness and safety protocols to all her community members. She has made it her mission to help people realize the severity of this disease and the importance of wearing masks. And she has been successful!

When the vaccination for the elderly began in early 2021, Ramvati and her husband were among the first couples to register and receive the vaccine.

She was then able to speak to her community members to dispel various myths on the harmful effects of the vaccine. Many elderly community members followed in her footsteps and she personally accompanied them to the vaccination centre.

Thank you for standing with Ramwati and hundreds of women like her, many of whom you have met in the past. What would they have done without you? You are true and faithful representatives of what Family stands for.

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Asha student Farman from Chanderpuri slum scores a brilliant 91.7% in his final exams

Here’s the story of High School Asha student Farman written by my colleague Amitava.

Thank you to Steve and to the members of Reservoir for your commitment to the Asha family in Chanderpuri. You might remember Farman through your visits in the past.

Farman lives in Chanderpuri slum with his parents. His family had migrated to Delhi more than twenty years back from the neighbouring state of UP in search of a better life. They live in a one room shanty near the railway track of Chanderpuri. When it rains, water enters their house and washes away all their belongings. Farman had to face life’s challenges since his childhood and saw acute poverty and deprivation from close quarters. The severe space crunch in the house, the sound of constant rattling of trains and lack of enabling environment resulted in huge difficulties for Farman to concentrate in his studies. Her father is a day laborer earning about 80 dollars a month. This amount was too meagre to maintain the family. Already struggling for survival, the crisis of the pandemic put the family further into existential crisis as Farman’s father lost his income and there were no savings to fall back on.


However, Asha provided the family with emergency food parcels throughout the pandemic. This enabled the family to survive the crisis.

As both the parents and other family members are not educated, the biggest challenge for Asha was to help them understand the value of education for Farman who has been associated with Asha since his childhood as a member of Bal Mandal (Children’s Group). The Asha team and student ambassadors played a major role in motivating Farman in his quest for higher education, and gave him the necessary support. Farman’s parents were also counselled both at the Asha center in Chanderpuri as well as through regular home visits. Finally, the team was delighted when they allowed Farman to opt for higher education.

Farman studied at the Asha center using the resources like advanced IT facilities, books and dedicated study spaces as there were no facilities at his home for studies. He would come to the center early in the morning and after his studies, attended his school classes on line. After spending the whole day at the center, he returned home in the evening. The Asha team provided him with academic support through study material, and the Senior Asha Ambassadors helped him with his subjects and helped clear his concepts.

With Farman’s determination and focus, and with Asha’s support, he scored a brilliant 91.7% in his School Leaving exams! What a wonderful result. He studied English, History, Political Science and Geography.

Asha will now help him apply to some top rung universities in Delhi. He wants to do an Honours in Political Science and dreams of entering the prestigious Indian Administrative Service.

“I want to change the condition of my community and bring an end to their sufferings and struggles”, says Farman. He has been a brave and committed Asha Corona warrior all through the pandemic.

All the best Farman for a brilliant future. May you soon see a day when you and your family will never be poor again. And we are all fully committed to helping you achieve your goals.

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Asha students excel in their class 12 exam results

Hello folks, the class 12 high school results are out! I was rather anxious because the National school leaving exams were canceled. The government decided to use the grades students got in class 10 and 11 and the internal assessments for class 12. Because everything went online, school students from the slums suffered a lot.However, many Asha students have done exceptionally well! 10 students have scored 90% and above. Many have scored between 80 and 90%. What a fine achievement during a time like this. Delhi University admissions will begin later in the month. It remains to be seen how many students get in, but we are hopeful.Here is the story of Priya from Anna Nagar community. She has scored a whopping 90.5% with 93 in English, 95 in Hindi, 95 in Political Science, and 91 in History.

Priya’s shanty is located by the side of an open drain. The water flows right into her home during the monsoon season. It gets flooded with sewage and dirt from the drain every year. Her father works as a daily wage labourer at a gas station, earning 180 US dollars a month.He lost his job during the lockdown, and the family soon had no money. The Asha Team came to their aid immediately and provided them with food parcels. Priya was given all the scholastic materials she needed by Asha. She would come everyday to study in a quiet space at the Asha Centre.

Asha Ambassador and senior Delhi University student Mehzabeen gave her plenty of coaching and helped her in all her exams. Priya and her brother shared a cheap smartphone all through the pandemic. She often missed classes when her brother needed the phone, or when they ran out of data.

What a fantastic performance through all her struggles. We will be helping her with admission to Delhi University when the process begins. Congratulations and way to go Priya. Thank you all for helping Priya and so many school leaving students from the slums to do well and to look forward to a bright future.

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Asha congratulates Friends of Asha- GB Dr Louise Dolan on her marriage

Dr Louise Dolan is a senior Consultant in Rheumatology in the UK. She has been a friend of Asha for many years, and has been to Asha on a number of occasions.

I have the best news ever! She just got married to Matt, and they asked all their friends to make donations to Asha instead of giving them wedding presents.

What a wonderful way to live.

Warmest congratulations Louise and Matt for a life together filled with love, laughter and happiness. Thank you for your generosity especially at this time when the poor are going through so much suffering.

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Asha graduate Tushar awarded the Gold Medal for Student of the Year

Hello folks, Asha student Tushar begins his Masters in International Relations from University of Sydney ( online from India for now) on August 2nd.

He will need our support and good wishes as he begins his journey.

And there’s some wonderful news! He was awarded the Gold Medal for Student of the Year from his college at Delhi University for the year 2020.

Congratulations  to Tushar!

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Asha student Sugra receives an urgent healthcare intervention by Asha

Hello friends, yesterday as I was running my clinic on Zoom, I suddenly heard that Asha university student Sugra (whose English teacher is Asha USA Trustee Jean Peteet) was lying in bed quite sick. I called for her to come to the Seelampur clinic. It was found that she was really pale and her BP was 80/50. She was filling dizzy and. could hardly stand. I asked Asha team member Shiv to take her to the hospital emergency immediately. Her father refused saying there was nothing wrong with her. I prevailed upon her father and Shiv took her to the emergency of a public hospital in the vicinity. The Junior doctor there refused to examine her or admit her. I then spoke with him over the phone and said to him that if he did not immediately give her IV fluids and stabilize her, I would be forced to take the matter up with higher authorities. He became apprehensive after the conversation, and admitted her. Shiv and Aditya, both Asha warriors were with her all the time.

In the meanwhile, I spoke with a colleague at a larger hospital, requesting for him to admit and investigate her, and he did that.

He told the family that she required immediate blood transfusion but that she was AB positive and they did not have this blood group in the blood bank.

The Asha warriors immediately went to the Red Cross blood bank, donated one unit of blood each, and they gave them 2 units of AB positive blood in exchange, for Sugra.

She has now received blood transfusion, and will be further investigated to find out the cause of the anemia.

What would have happened to Sugra without Asha? She could have gone into hypoxia and had a system shut down if we had not intervened immediately. So many obstacles from family, from hospitals. The Never Give Up spirit is critical for change and transformation and healing. It is a hallmark of true compassion.

Donate for Asha’s Covid-19 emergency response: https://bit.ly/2tFvdy3

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