Affirmation practice by the Asha team

Affirmation is quite closely linked to the value of gratitude. According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘to affirm’ means: to state or assert positively, to maintain as true. It also stands for giving a person a heightened sense of value through the experience of something emotionally or spiritually uplifting.

It is a standard practice at all Asha meetings to affirm and appreciate one another in a safe and loving environment. Everyone present is affirmed, demonstrating the love, appreciation, and respect all team members have for each other. However, our declaration of something in a person that is true requires a genuine knowing of the other. This happens when we take time to build relationships with one another, pay attention to each other’s strengths, recognize and appreciate the gifts of others, and genuinely express that recognition to one another. We can then speak the truth with conviction and knowledge, to what we know about the other. Our affirmation can be authentic, and completely devoid of flattery and manipulation.

Everyday, I see the amazing effects of affirmations on my team as well as on hundreds of slum college students, children, and others in the communities. I have seen these affirmations bring to life their capabilities, strengths, talents, and skills. Their effects penetrate so deeply that the person’s entire attitude, behavior, and actions are affected. They change the way people experience events, and they completely alter the emotional climate of relationships. The word ‘encourage’ means ‘to inspire courage’. Words of encouragement and affirmation lead to courage, and a sense of security. This brings about a vibrant expression of latent potential within us, and causes us to flourish in all the dimensions of our lives. There is no room for judgmental or guilt inducing, condemning or critical words that lead to a feeling of rejection.

There is no room for loudness or harshness. The tone and manner in which we speak is exceedingly important.

People are deeply influenced by those who affirm them, and listen to them. Being affirmed does wonders for the other person’s sense of hearing. In addition, behaviours that are rewarded and celebrated, are more likely to be repeated. Affirmation in the presence of others is also key. This means that we are giving public honour and respect for a person’s gifts, abilities, and qualities.

It is important that we affirm people on a consistent basis. Studies have found that consistent affirmation results in the muscles becoming stronger, and more active. On the other hand, the muscles tend to become weak and we feel a sense of fatigue in a negative environment.

Let us embrace affirmation as a value to be practiced everyday, and let us remember that our affirmations can have a profound impact on the lives of others. They way others experience life’s events, and relationships around them, can change forever.

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Archana successfully combats multiple health problems through Asha’s effective interventions

This is the story of 19 year old Archana who has lived in great poverty in Mayapuri slum by the railway track. Archana’s family consists of 8 members; her parents and her younger siblings. Her father is the only earning member, working as a labourer in a scrap factory in the vicinity.

From what I understand, Archana was living in the village with her relatives, and was already suffering from Bronchial Asthma that was out of control.

When the pandemic struck, her father immediately lost his job. Asha reached the doorstep of the family and provided them with groceries, funds, medicines and other essentials. Had it not been for Asha, the family would have been driven to starvation.

After a few months, Archana’s parents decided to get her home to Delhi from their village.

When she arrived, the Asha Community Health Volunteer Sumitra met her and was shocked to find her severely malnourished as well as suffering from Bronchial Asthma.

She immediately took her to the Asha clinic where the health team did her health assessment. Her weight was just 25kg, her Body Mass Index was 13. She was severely malnourished, had anemia, and Bronchial Asthma.

She was immediately put on treatment for all these conditions, and was started on the Asha Laddoo as well as the Asha Sattu.

Gradually her Bronchial Asthma came under control, and she began to gain weight. Her hemoglobin went up from 6 to 9. All her micronutrient deficiencies were corrected. She became more alert, more energetic, and more positive.

Today she weighs 38kg and her BMI has gone up to 19.

“ I thought I would never get well. I had lost all hope. The Asha family saved me. The warriors are like my brothers and sisters. I receive love and comfort from the Asha family. Thank you for all that you are doing to save my life and bring me back on the road to recovery”, says Archana.

There are hundreds of young girls like Archana. I would have to write many books to tell all their stories. But with your wonderful support and your care for the poor, they are coming out of malnutrition and starvation. What a beautiful work you are all doing. Please continue to think of these young girls as the holiday season approaches and we are all getting ready to celebrate. Let’s make sure they have plenty to eat and nice clothes to wear. May we celebrate our holidays together with the poor and spread love and light in the holiday spirit!

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Dengue claims the life of promising Asha student- Yuvraj, strengthening our resolve to fight the disease

Hi folks, there has been a new development in the past few weeks: the rise in patients who are getting Dengue Fever. This can be life threatening and there have already been about 45000 deaths from Dengue Fever in India in the past few months. These are the official figures; the actual ones are likely to be much higher.

This Fever as you may know is Viral in nature and is spread through the bite of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that bites during the day.

The symptoms are similar to that of a regular viral fever, but Dengue can turn serious if Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever develops, with rashes, bleeding, and a severely low platelet count, less than 30,000, in which case immediate hospital admission is required.

The warriors are doing Fever screening from home to home, explaining the reasons for spread, getting civic officials to undertake anti larval spraying measures in the open drains, making sure there is no stagnant water around, and encouraging the use of mosquito repellent creams.

Complete Blood Counts are done for all suspected patients, and further investigations for NS1 Dengue Virus Antigen Test are carried out.

One of our dedicated warriors Yuvraj from Ekta Vihar, suddenly died of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever a few days back. It was so tragic; he was just 22 years old, and had been working hard to fight Covid in his community as well as get 12th grade school leavers admitted to university. All of us at Asha were shocked. The entire team went to visit his family. No one knew he was ill, it all happened very quickly. We are all so very sad.

We have been making even more serious efforts to fight the disease after the passing away of Yuvraj.

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Vidya- Realising her dream to become a Nurse and serve her community

Hello folks, this is the beautiful story of Vidya from Kusumpur Pahadi slum. Her father tragically died about ten years ago and immediately after, the family went into deep financial distress. Vidya was young, and a bright student at school. However, her mother began to work as a small time helper to earn some money. This meant that Vidya had to take over all the household work when she was barely 8 years old. Then another tragedy struck. Her brother developed a mental illness and was severely incapacitated. Young Vidya found herself looking after her brother, her other siblings, and doing all the household work including cooking for the family. Her studies took a back seat. She was sad about this. She loved to learn, but hardly had any time. She wanted to become a nurse. This was her dream. She saw the nurses at the hospital serving her ailing father and wanted to serve the sick and the needy too. But she said to herself that it was impossible. She couldn’t study and her family had no money. She was reconciled to a life of poverty and poor education.

One day an Asha Ambassador came across her and they began to talk. Vidya shared her story with her. She brought Vidya to the Asha center. Vidya was overwhelmed by the IT Lab with high speed internet, the books, the resources to prepare for the school leaving exam, the mentoring and coaching provided by the Asha senior students, and the atmosphere of kindness and support.

When the pandemic struck, Vidya’s schooling went online. She of course had no smart phone, so she would come regularly to Asha to study. The Asha family encouraged Vidya not to give up her dream to become a nurse. She could do it with their help, they said! Vidya began to study really hard. She did really well in her school leaving exam, and with Asha’s support, got into the School of Nursing and Institute of Public Health and Hygiene! What an exciting day it was for her, for her family, and for all of us! It’s an expensive program, and Asha paid her tuition as well as other expenses.

Way to go Vidya! Don’t worry, we are with you and will be there for you always.

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The Sacramento Chapter of friends of Asha welcomes Dr. Kiran and Mr. Martin

Hi everyone, we had a wonderful evening yesterday at the home of Drs Praveen and Nalini Prasad in Sacramento. The Sacramento Chapter of FOA was founded by Nalini (Dermatologist) with the support of her husband Praveen (Neurosurgeon). They have been welcoming me with open hearts and hands for the past many years, and have spread the message of Asha’s vision and work far and wide in the area. Their good friend Manmohan Passi has also taken a great deal of initiative in organizing virtual events on Zoom all through the pandemic. Long-term Friends of Asha in Sacramento took the time to come to the Prasads’ home for dinner and hear all about Asha’s Covid related efforts. It was such a joy to meet them all. I felt uplifted, my spirits raised.

Nalini and Praveen Prasad, the Founders of FOA Sacramento Chapter

Manmohan Passi, one of the leaders of the Sacramento Chapter, and Board Member of Asha USA

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Dr Kiran meets friends of Asha in Napa Valley, California

Today’s post is to appreciate and thank friends of Asha in Napa Valley, California. I met the core group in Napa over dinner, after two long years. The founder of friends of Asha Napa KC Chaudhary passed away recently. His daughter Rita and her husband Jim were there and it was such a joy to meet them. Lana and David Stanley, Jim and Sandy Jones, John and Sally Zikmund, and Jeet Bhangoo the owner of Aroma Cuisine were present and gave Freddy and me a warm welcome. It was wonderful to meet Rohit and Mridula Patel and spend the night at their home.We decided to open a high-speed internet Centre at an Asha community in memory of Kailash Chaudhary who served and supported Asha through his Annual fundraiser in Napa for over 21 years.Thank you Napa for your love and your friendship. I shall cherish it always and look forward to seeing you again in 2022!

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Girl from Delhi slum carving her way to success

This is the story of a beautiful girl called Nandana in her own words:

My name is Nandana. I am 18 years old. We are a family of 7. My parents moved with the 5 of us from Punjab to Delhi in desperate search for work. The big city overwhelmed us. With great difficulty, we could manage to build a one room shanty with pieces of plastic and sticks right beside the railway tracks in Mayapuri.

The constant noise, the rattling sound of the trains all day and all night meant that I just couldn’t sleep. I was bothered by the dirt all around me, and the smell would make me sick. When it rained, all the waste from the overflowing drains along with garbage would flood our shanty. We kept falling sick all the time because of the terrible hygiene.

My father was a day labourer, and barely earned 120 USD a month. We had two meals a day, mostly food that badly lacked in nutrients. We used a wood fire to cook as we had no money for cooking gas.

Life became a nightmare when my father began to drink regularly. He would spend all his money on alcohol. He then became violent and abusive, and I was always scared because I never knew what he would do next. I spent many nights crying out of sheer desperation with no solution in sight. I was deeply traumatized.

My brother opened up a small makeshift grocery shop to somehow help us financially.

My father went into liver failure and died last year. What a sad end he had because of poverty.

My sister Vandana had already been coming to Asha for many years. She was the first person in my family to go to university. I was so inspired by her. She encouraged me to come to Asha, and on her advice, I got associated with Asha.

That became the turning point in my life. Asha Ambassador Tushar spent many days and hours tutoring and mentoring me. As a result, I scored 91% in my school leaving exam. I was so happy. I never imagined I was capable of such a result.

I will be now studying Psychology and Philosophy at the famous Laxmibai College of Delhi University. When I saw my campus, I felt like I was walking in a dream. I felt wonderful. The Asha family helped me with every step of the admissions process. Without their help, I would never have been able to understand this complicated system. They paid for all my college expenses. I could never have gone to college without a financial scholarship from Asha.

I enjoy my work as an Asha Corona Warrior. My sister Vandana and I worked hard, going from home to home, identifying Covid patients and referring them to the Asha team at our health center. I have taken many people from my community for vaccinations. My service to my community gives me great satisfaction.

I want to thank Friends of Asha all over the world for doing so much to support me and many other young girls like me, to get a university education. I will never ever forget your kindness. Thank you once again on behalf of all the Asha students who are gettting into university this year. We are eagerly waiting for our classes to begin.

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Kavita- Determined fight to enter the hallowed portals of the university

Hi folks, here’s another story with a tragic start and a beautiful ending.

Kavita lives in Safeda Basti, a slum that is one of the worst I’ve seen. It’s about 4km away from Chanderpuri. The Asha team from Chanderpuri go there on a regular basis, and the students from Safeda come to the Asha center walking 4km.

Kavita is one of 7 siblings. Her father brought the family to Delhi 20 years back in search of a better life. Living in Safeda Basti was not what they ever imagined would happen. The poor living conditions and the absence of work made life miserable. Finally Kavita’s father began to sell vegetables on a cart by the side of the road in the local area. He barely earned 80-90 US dollars a month.

Kavita loved to study and somehow managed to do well in primary and secondary school. I was amazed to hear that she did so well in spite of being in a poor quality public school and living in a one room shanty.

Suddenly Kavita’s father suffered from a stroke and the left half of his body was paralyzed. The family took loans for his treatment and they had to arrange funds for huge medical expenses. Then Kavita’s mother fell sick and could not go to find work. In such a situation, Kavita gave up all hope of studying further and began to give private tuitions to young children from the slum, in her home. She began to earn a small amount of money. She and her family went through the worst of times. With both parents unable to work, Kavita was supporting the family financially, doing all the household work, and taking her ailing father to the hospital.

When the country went into lockdown because of the pandemic, Kavita felt she was waging a losing battle. She decided to abandon her education and her dreams forever.

The Asha team arrived with Groceries at her doorstep just after the lockdown. Kavita began to have conversations with the Asha team members, confiding all her troubles and worries in them. The team and Warriors brought her to the Asha Centre. They were determined to encourage her and help her through her troubles. They introduced her to the world of smart laptops with high speed internet, they coached her with enthusiasm and diligence, and gave her access to the well resourced library and quiet study spaces.

Slowly the long lost smile came back on Kavita’s face. She became immersed in the world of hope, positivity and promise. She began to love coming to the Asha Centre. She didn’t care about the 4km walk in the scorching heat, so keen was she to come everyday.

With her wonderful efforts and the compassionate support of the Asha family, she scored 81% in the National School Leaving exam. She was thrilled as was the Asha family. Kavita’s parents were reluctant to send her to university because of their financial distress and the loss of income from Kavita.

Asha took a long time to convince them, helped Kavita to navigate the university admissions process, and she now has a place to study for a BA at Maitreyi College of Delhi University! Asha has promised to take care of her financially, emotionally and in all other ways necessary, including supporting her family through the pandemic.

Kavita’s dreams have been resurrected, her spirits are raised, and there is Hope, Asha, once again in her life.

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Anshika’s Resilience to conquer the odds in pursuit of Higher Education.

Hello folks, this is the story of Asha student Anshika who lives in Kusumpur Pahadi slum. Her father is an alcoholic and does not work. Her mother works as a housemaid in people’s homes and earns about 120 dollars a month. Her brother was working on and off doing odd jobs at a nearby mall. Anshika has had a hard life in Kusumpur where the terrain is rough, the shanties are poorly built, and the residents are dependent on water tankers for water supply.

When the pandemic struck and there was a nationwide lockdown, both Anshika’s mother and brother immediately lost their jobs. The family went into terrible destitution. Over all that, Anshika’s father went into severe health problems related to his alcoholism.

Anshika completed her secondary schooling and almost gave up on studies. She was confused, she didn’t know what to do with her life.

That was the time when the Asha Warriors and Ambassadors found her. They understood her circumstances, and were determined to help her out. They invited her to the Asha study Centre. They helped her with access to study material, coaching, quiet study spaces, and general mentoring and guidance. The warm and friendly environment fostered by the Asha team and Warriors slowly began to change her perspective on life. She felt transported into a new world- a world filled with optimism, hope and enthusiasm. The team stood behind her as she went on to take the school leaving examination. And what a wonderful performance from Anshika! She scored a brilliant 92.5%. Through Asha’s support, she has now found a place to study an Honors in Political Science at Bharti College, Delhi University. We have paid every single college related expense including the college tuition, without which her educational journey would have come to an end. How sorrowful that would have been. But now Anshika is excited to begin her university education. She could hardly believe it when she saw her college. We are determined to stand with her all through her university years, making sure she continues to be assisted financially, mentored and supported. Way to go Anshika! We are all behind you, never to leave you. You deserve to flourish and attain your highest potential just like anyone else.

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Imrana – Fighting severe Malnutrition on road to good health

Hello folks, here’s a story that broke my heart. Imraana from Seelampur slum is a mother of three young children. Her father died when she was very young. Her mother, considering her to be a huge burden, married her off at the age of 17. She soon found out that her husband did not work. There was no money and her in-laws threw the newly married couple out of the joint family home. Imraana soon had a baby. There was no food at home. Her husband drank everyday and beat her. She said she would dream every night of having food. She and her children would beg for food near wedding venues or near mosques. On most days she and the children would drink black tea and the sides of bread slices a man from a nearby bakery would give her. I was so heartbroken when I heard this. Imraana began to do some piece work for which she was given a pittance per piece. And all that came to a complete stop when Covid struck and there was a full lockdown.

One day an Asha warrior was passing by and saw Imraana’s 2 year old baby. She was severely malnourished and crying of hunger. Then they met Imraana and noticed that she was really thin. They brought the mother and daughter Shifa to the Asha centre immediately. Imraana weighed just 26kg. The Asha Health Team assessed the mother and baby on an emergency basis. They put them on a daily high calorie high protein diet immediately. And gave Grocery Parcels to the entire family. They gave Imraana a Vitamin D3 injection and put her on vitamin and mineral supplements. The baby was given supplements too.

Imraana developed a urinary tract infection because of the use of dirty pieces of cloth during menstruation. The team immediately treated her UTI and gave her feminine hygiene products.

Imraana now weighs 33kg and both she and the baby are slowly getting better. They both have a long way to go. All of Asha’s interventions continue and will do so for a long time.

I have promised myself and my team that we will never leave her alone again and will continue to take care of her and her children always.

There are so many malnourished women like Imraana. May we find them all, as we look for them, and reach out to them with love and healing.

Thank you to everyone of you. You are working so hard to raise resources for Asha. You are saving and transforming lives every day.

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