Monthly Archives: March 2021

HOPE Newsletter

In this 88th edition of our newsletter HOPE, we are happy to share how Asha continues to transform the lives of slum dwellers even in such difficult times.

You will also read about the inspirational journey of Saddam a son of a daily wager son from the Savda slum community who aced the High school exam with 88% and secured a seat in the prestigious college of Delhi University. Also, Dr Kiran has penned down a farewell message to a longtime Asha supporter, Mr Kailash Chaudhary.

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Asha warrior Salma’s story of hope and determination

Salma is a 17-year-old Asha student, who was born and brought up within the tiny and congested lanes of Chanderpuri slum. Her Father shifted to New Delhi from the state of West Bengal a decade ago. He works as an Urdu teacher, teaching young students within the community. He barely earns any money as he teaches many poor students for free. While Salma’s mother, works from home, cutting threads of clothes from nearby factories. She earns a meagre sum for hours of hard work done.

As a child, Salma got associated with Asha and loved learning at the Asha centre. However, Salma was forbidden from stepping out often as her Father was very strict. The Asha team noticed how bright Salma was and did not want her to miss out on any opportunities. They visited her home and informed Salma’s father about Asha’s work and how Asha could be a great influence for young Salma. With time, her father granted permission and Salma was free to learn and soak up knowledge.

The Asha team in Chanderpuri were absolutely right about Salma! As she grew up, Salma grew extremely confident and excelled in her studies as well. Her confidence earned through Asha, also helped her achieve extraordinary results in school. Salma started to participate in extra-curricular activities and excelled particularly in the sport of running. She became such a good runner that she continuously stood first in all the races that she participated in from the 6th-12th standard!

Salma’s hard work and dedication earned her heaps of medals and certificates! These are proudly displayed at her home by her parents today. Her Father is extremely proud of her achievements and supports her unconditionally today. Salma’s immediate dream is now to attend college in Delhi University, she cannot wait to start her college education!

‘Asha Ambassadors took online classes as well during the lockdown to help students like me. Currently I am receiving free coaching in all subjects at the Asha study centre and free books as well. With Asha’s help, I am preparing myself to score high marks and excel my final exams.’ says Salma with a big smile.

Salma has also become an active Asha warrior in Chanderpuri. She is a prominent face here and is well known for her dedicated community service that she provides to the slum dwellers through Asha. Asha is proud to support and aid such young minds as Salma who are the bright future of their communities.

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Dr Ted Lankester publishes a new book on Public health in developing countries

Dr Ted Lankester is a renowned British public health expert. Here is a new book he has just published. Do get a copy if you are interested in the subject of public health in developing countries.


The fallout from COVID will massively impact nearly all aspects of global health. For example, WHO states: “The impact of COVID threatens to unwind decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, polio, measles, typhoid, and yellow fever”.

In its 28 chapters, this book gives details of how crucial areas need to be re-established and further developed at a community level. Our book is recently published by Oxford University Press, 2019. 515 pages, 28 Chapters, 16 authors. Please consider obtaining one or telling others!

Available from OUP (
Can be obtained as a book, an E-Book (Kindle) and as a free download

Now available at a still lower price printed in India for those living in India, Nepal and Bangladesh (

For those living in the United States

Also available from Amazon

Published in association with Arukah Network for Global Community Health

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Elderly mother and son who were helpless and abandoned cared for by Asha

This is the story of 105-year-old Akhila and her 80-year-old son Ismail who reside within the tiny lanes of Asha’s Seelampur slum community. Their lives have been filled with constant sorrow and pain as this mother and son duo have suffered a lot at the hands of fate. Today, only Asha stands beside them emotionally supporting them and providing them with the necessary provisions to survive each day.

It has been more than 40 years that Akhila settled down in Seelampur. She had come to Delhi from the state of Uttar Pradesh with her 5 children, searching for her husband who had absconded for a year. She soon came to know from her sources that her husband had left her for another woman. Akhila was desperate and hopeless. Akhila and her children had no financial support and had to fend for themselves, picking up odd jobs to earn a meagre sum, just so they could survive.

Over the years, with tremendous hard work and dedication Akhila and her 2 eldest sons were able to build a home for themselves in Seelampur. Akhila also managed to get her 3 daughters married off. Time passed and Akhila became a grandmother, life was going fairly well for her family, until disaster struck.

One night, Akhila’s house came falling down, she lost everything overnight. Akhila’s neighbours had been building another floor on top of their three-storey home, this was illegal and highly risky. The newly constructed floor was unstable and fell down on Akhila’s family home. Her younger son and his daughter died as this floor fell in the kitchen. Akhila and her eldest son managed to survive as they were sleeping on the roof top.

Homeless and alone, Akhila and her eldest son had no one to turn to. At such a time, the Asha team in Seelampur heard about their troubles and rushed to help. The Asha team and Women’s group in Seelampur continuously made visits to the MLA office to make sure that Akhila and her son receive a room they can call home once again. Due to Asha’s resilient efforts, Akhila and her son received a 1 room house to shift into. They slowly started to settle down and lead their lives with the help of Asha.

The pandemic made the situation worse for Akhila and her son. Hunger was a prominent issue as this mother and son duo struggled to eat one time meal a day. To make matters worse, Ismail had started to develop mental issues since the past few years that aggravated during the lockdown. He has developed very high anger issues and has become disturbed mentally. Even the neighbours and children in the area are very scared of him and maintain their distance.

Asha made sure to provide Akhila and Ismail with food kits, cash and medicines through the Asha corona warriors in Seelampur. This helped this poor mother and son to survive some of the most difficult days during the lockdown. Asha has continued to provide monthly food kits to them till today as they are completely helpless and alone. Without Asha, Akhila and Ismail would be living in the streets today.

The Asha team in Seelampur have been taking extra care of Akhila and Ismail, making sure that the both of them complete their weekly visits to the Asha clinic for their checkups. Both Akhila and Ismail are also being counseled and motivated by the Asha team to register and receive the vaccination. The Asha corona warriors too make the extra effort to spend quality time with Akhila and have formed a deep bond with her. Today, Akhila cannot imagine her life without the Asha team in Seelampur. She is very grateful for Asha and hopes that Asha will continue to help poor souls like her.

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Elderly in Asha slums receive their vaccination

The vaccination process for age 60 and above has begun in India. However, many of the elderly in the slums are hesitant to receive the vaccination, they are scared about facing the adverse reactions and the pain. At such a time, it has been a great challenge for our Asha corona warriors to persuade the elderly and convince them that receiving the vaccination is the right thing to do for their health. But our warriors have kept their spirits high and continued the hard work to visit every elderly home and provide them with the correct information and benefits of taking the vaccine.

Asha corona warriors in all the slums are registering the elderly in their area. Most of the elderly have started to receive their appointments as well. Few of the elderly have also already received their first dose of vaccine. They will receive their second dose after 28 days.

Through this entire process, the Asha corona warriors have taken the responsibility to personally assist the elderly to the hospitals. They make sure to sit with them and comfort them before and after they receive their vaccine jab. Furthermore, the warriors are also staying in touch with the elderly for the next 48 hours and providing them with the emotional support that they require.

Asha is focusing on taking special care of the vulnerable elderly people, so that no one misses out on the opportunity to receive the aid they deserve. Many of the registered elderly have their appointment in the upcoming week. Asha warriors are continuing the hard work to register more people every day. Receiving the vaccination will make the elderly feel safe and secure amid the pandemic.

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No one except Asha has helped me: 80-year-old Kanta Devi

80-year-old Kanta Devi, who once had a family and was well settled is now surviving at the mercy of her neighbours. Her destiny brought her to the Kalkaji Slum colonies 30 years ago.

She resided in one of the colonies of Delhi. She too had a small family. Her day started with sending off her two little children to school and her husband to the office. But her life took a turn and she lost everything. In an accident, she lost her husband and children. Tragically followed soon after by her parents. Kanta was the only child. Now she had no one to take care of her.

Kanta was left alone, distraught and helpless. Life became difficult for her, so she moved to the Kalkaji slum colony. Kanta built her small shanty in the corner of the slum but there was no electricity and water connection. This forced her to live on the street.

Today a 6 by 2 feet public bench is what she calls her home. Her home includes just a dirty blanket and a few water bottles. She cries silently when she thinks about her family. Kanta had a perfect family then. But as they say it, life is uncertain!

It was then that the Asha staff found her and learnt about her difficulties. The Mahila Mandal (Women’s Group) and Bal Mandal (Children’s group) regularly provided her with some food. Asha team provided her with medicines and supplement and looked after her medical needs.

When the Covid pandemic struck, it became more difficult for her to survive. The Asha team did not forget her even during the lockdown and through Asha Warriors immediately rushed to her aid. Asha has been providing her continuously with ration and made sure that her neighbours cook and provide her with 3 times meal. An Asha warrior has been attached with her to emotionally support. Now, every day she looks forward to the Asha Warrior’s visit. The Women Association members take turns to give her a bath and get her clothes washed.

“I have no-one yet Asha team helped me like a family member. No one except Asha has bothered for this poor lady. Thank you very much,” says Kanta with tears in her eyes.

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Friends of Asha-GB hold a virtual walk to support Asha

The Friends of Asha- Great Britain have joined in efforts to help raise funds and support Asha’s response to the pandemic in Asha Slums through their virtual walk campaign called ‘Ramble to Delhi’.

Asha supporters from Great Britain will be walking the approximate distance from London to Delhi, covering the distance of 4500 miles on foot by Easter. This initiative has been largely successful so far, with supporters walking short distances and several miles at a time. They have also been joined by Asha Ambassadors and Asha Warriors in New Delhi to join them in their efforts and help cover the distance.

Thank you Friends of Asha GB for taking this great initiative to support the work of Asha.

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Asha Ambassadors coach younger Asha students in the slums

With the pandemic, the education of school and college students has transferred online almost permanently. This situation has caused young students from the slums to face many queries and concerns in various subjects. At such a time, the Asha Ambassadors within various slums have stepped in and taken on the role of teachers to help students preparing for national school leaving exams continue their quest for education.

Our resilient Asha Ambassadors are taking out time from their hectic schedules to coach slum students within their homes and the Asha study centres. They are making sure that no students fall behind in their studies and receive all the help that they require.

We are so proud of our Asha Ambassadors for showcasing the value of ‘Pay it forward’ inaction and inspiring young minds within their slum communities.

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Inauguration of IT Center at Asha’s Mayapuri Slum Community

On 4th March 2021, ASHA inaugurated its first IT Lab in Mayapuri Asha centre in the presence of His Excellency Barry O’Farrell, High Commissioner of Australia to India. The event was also streamed live through zoom, and Asha supporters in Australia and around the world were able to watch with great delight.

Dr. Kiran hosted the online event and informed that this IT lab would transform the lives of thousands of young school and college-going Asha students in Mayapuri slum community. Mala, an Asha graduate also spoke about the challenges that students face regularly with internet services and how crucial an IT lab is for her community. Later, the High Commissioner also took a moment to appreciate the efforts of Asha and the Friends of Asha-Australia for supporting such means of education.

The Asha students were very excited to have a personal interaction with HE Mr. Barry O’Farrell and share their stories with him. The High Commissioner also received the opportunity to engage with the Women’s Group and community health volunteers in Mayapuri and take a tour of the Mayapuri Asha centre as well.

ASHA would like to thank Friends of Asha in Australia for their support for this initiative.

ASHA would like to thank Friends of Asha in Australia for their support for this initiative.

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Asha Student Mohini from Tigri Slum Community

This is a beautiful video of Mohini from Asha’s Tigri Slum Community.

I remember, during the early years of Asha, I personally witnessed newborn baby girls being strangulated by the midwife with the umbilical cord, and they were still born. I saw one of them being buried behind her mother’s shanty, surrounded by garbage and filth.

Girls in the slums are denied an education, married early and have children well before they are 20-21 years of age.

They are the silent sufferers with rampant sexual abuse.

How much mourning and sorrow there is when they are born, specially if they are child number 3 or 4.

Such was the situation with Mohini. But what a marvelous story of redemption through the work of Asha, told in her own words. And I’m sure we will see her in Australia soon, doing her Masters!

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