Telehealth clinics in Asha slum communities

I have been doing regular clinics on Zoom at the various Asha centres. I use the opportunity to train Asha nurses who take turns to be on these telehealth clinics. Patients have also got used to the laptop and the headphones. Patients come in large numbers with all kinds of acute and chronic conditions. Free investigations and treatment is being given to all. Referrals are made to hospitals through our linkages as necessary. Patients just cannot pay for health care during these days of financial crisis. I have expanded our pharmacy so that patients do not have to buy drugs from pharmacies outside. All drugs provided are from the best companies and generic as much as possible. I am really happy at how well our nurse practitioners are continuously being trained and can provide General Practice level care without the intervention of doctors in most cases. They are such keen learners, and are get excited when they are able to run GP clinics independently. I am proud of them.

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Practicing Gratitude in Asha slum communities

Hi everyone, Gratitude bands, threads and bracelets are being tied everywhere at Asha these days. It is bringing in so much joy and positivity. The uniqueness of this exercise is opening our eyes to the immense power of Gratitude.

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Sydney Scholars India Equity Scholarship awarded to Asha student Tushar Joshi

Asha is very proud to congratulate Tushar on being awarded the Sydney Scholars India Equity Scholarship to study a ‘Master of International Relations’ at the University of Sydney, Australia.

Tushar is the second student from Asha to receive this scholarship at the University of Sydney. We wish Tushar all the very best for his future as he beings to pursue this next chapter in his life!

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Essence of a good team-Dr. Kiran’s Musings

Hello folks,

I have been reflecting on the various elements of our approach as a team that led to the best outcomes we could arrive at during the worst time of the second wave when people were dying everywhere. As I said earlier, we treated 1500 patients, and one patient died.

Among the many reasons, Trust seems to be at the core.

Having walked this journey together with the communities for 33 years, the residents have a firm belief in our reliability and our integrity. Longevity and consistency is key. They know that we will never abandon them, no matter what.

They also know that we act in their very best interests, without regard for politics, caste, gender or religion. They have faith in our competence and our compassionate approach that they have witnessed over the years of our relationship.

We already had partnerships and organized groups within the communities and so could work together on the basis of a shared vision and shared goals. Our collective actions with hundreds of community members meant that we could reach out and benefit the largest number of people possible. Such partnerships that act together on the needs of communities are critical to a relationship of trust.

Fairness and equal treatment, as well as special care of the vulnerable, are important elements of trust.

Although Trust is influenced by history, it is not static. It must be consistently earned and maintained.

So Trust is a core principle of Public Health Leadership. Those are a few of my musings. Your comments, reflections, thoughts are welcome!

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Gratitude Conversation in the Asha Slum Communities

I had my first Zoom call with the entire Kalkaji team through the new Asha IT centre with High Speed Internet in one of the largest slum communities in Delhi. Everyone was excited and expressed gratitude from their hearts.

Lily, the Team Leader of a team of 10 people and many Warriors thanked God for the day she came to know of Asha and joined in the year 1988, helping me during the cholera outbreak. What an exemplary life of love and service she has led.

Gratitude was expressed by the team for each Warrior by name: distribution of grocery parcels to such a large community would have been impossible without them. Their help at the clinics is invaluable, as they are utilizing the health training they received during the second wave.

Many female students gave thanks for the opportunity to study. Without the support of their parents and of Asha, they would have been working as maid servants in the neighborhood. That is what most of their mothers are doing.

A warrior shared that even though she lived in a one room home, she was grateful that she didn’t live on the pavement. She was also grateful for her family. So many people lived alone and had been abandoned by their families. She said she would rather live in one room with her family than live in loneliness.

One of our oldest CHV’s Gyanwati, gave thanks for the opportunity to take care of the health of her community for so many years. She remembers how her baby boy died because she didn’t give him fluids when he got sick with diarrhea. Once she received her training as a CHV, she vowed never to let a child die of dehydration. She said she would serve her community until the last day of her life.

What energy and enthusiasm there was on the Zoom call! Gratitude truly strengthens our bonds, fosters trust, and brings in an abundance of blessings.

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Gratitude Thread Tying Ceremony

Hello folks, this week we are having a Gratitude Thread Tying Ceremony everywhere in Asha. The Asha family members are making beautiful gratitude threads and bands. They then take out time to perform the ceremony of tying these threads to one another as a symbol of Gratitude for the person in their lives. They tie the thread and then express their gratitude sentiments to each other. They then think of the person with Gratitude each time they see the thread all through the day. What a wonderful way to celebrate Gratitude!

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Asha’s Emergency Covid Intervention Saves Anil’s Life

Anil is a 33-year-old man who resides in the lanes of Dr Ambedkar Basti slum. He has a 2-bedroom house, where he lives with his wife and 3 children. Living in a slum is not easy, along with life’s trials and tribulations, there are numerous financial difficulties and sorrows that he has faced.Anil was barely a teenager when he relocated to New Delhi from his village in Uttar Pradesh to help his father. He picked up odd jobs and started to earn some money to financially support his family. He soon got married and had children, he now had multiple responsibilities and mouths to feed.

With the passing years, Anil got a stable job working as a peon for a company. His job was difficult and tiring as he had to be on his feet whole day, going from one corner in the city to another to submit files. For this work, he started to earn a decent sum of 163 USD a month. As he was the single breadwinner, he had the burden of supporting 6 members of his family.

When the pandemic struck, like many slum dwellers Anil also lost his job for few months. At such a time, his mother was also diagnosed with lung cancer and her health started to deteriorate rapidly. Anil and his wife struggled to borrow money from distant relatives and neighbours for her treatment. However, by the time the lockdown was over, she had passed away. Furthermore, when the second covid wave hit Delhi, there was panic everywhere and death all around. The disease started to spread fast from different localities in Delhi and finally reached the slums. Anil, was one of the unfortunate, who started to display the covid symptoms of high fever, dry cough and breathlessness. After a few days, he got tested and was diagnosed covid positive. He visited the nearby Government clinic who just provided him with 10 days medicine and nothing more. Anil, isolated and started taking the medicines but his condition was not getting any better. He called the covid helpline multiple times but they could not provide further help. Hopeless and dejected, Anil now started to believe that he was not going to survive, he worried for his family.

Meanwhile, the Asha team had started going door to door in every slum and were looking for patients with covid symptoms as well as covid positive patients to treat. During this surveillance, the Asha team in Dr Ambedkar Basti came across Anil. They realized that his case was highly urgent. The Asha nurse immediately visited him at home and started to nebulize him 2 times a day for the next few weeks.

Asha’s intervention at the correct time was highly important, as just a few days delay could have brought Anil to the doors of death. Now with Asha’s home care treatment and free medicines, Anil started to recover very fast. Within just 2 days he was able to breathe much better. It took about another 2-3 weeks for Anil to completely recover and become healthy.To help Anil’s family during such a terrible crisis, Asha also provided him with grocery kits every month. Asha also provided Anil with High protein laddoos to help improve his immunity and make him stronger. Anil believes that if it were not for Asha then he would have not survived during that time. He is immensely grateful to Asha for life.

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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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