Asha for Education
Mission Statement – To catalyze socio-economic change in India through education of underprivileged children.
Objectives of the Group – Asha for Education is a secular organization dedicated to change in India by focusing on basic education in the belief that education is a critical requisite for socio-economic change.
In keeping with this focus, our volunteers are involved with and support projects that are secular and have an education-related component to them. The objectives of this group are:
1. To provide education to underprivileged children in India.
2. To encourage the formation of various local groups across the world to reach out to larger sections of the population.
3. To support and cooperate with persons and groups already engaged in similar activities.
4. To raise the required human and other resources to achieve the group objectives.
5. To provide opportunities to individuals living outside India who wish to participate in Asha activities in India.
6. To address, whenever possible, other issues affecting human life such as health care, environment, socio-economic aspects and women’s issues.
Asha: The Story – How it Started – In the summer of 1991, a few students including V.J.P.Srivatsavoy@, D. Gupta#, and S. Pandey* got together to think of ways in which they could play a role in the development of India, the country of their origin. These young people shared the belief that education is a critical requisite and an effective catalyst for social and economic change in India. Basic education became the agenda for the action group that emerged from this gathering. The group was named Asha to represent the hope that had brought these individuals together and the hope that they aimed to bring into the lives of children in India. In that summer of 1991, Asha was born at the University of California in Berkeley.
Asha Today – Asha’s focus on children’s education has galvanised a number of volunteers across the globe. Today, there are over 73 Asha chapters worldwide: 45 in the US, 14 in India, and 7 in Europe, Singapore and Australia.
Volunteers in each of these chapters take personal interest in identifying education-related projects in India, and supporting them through funds and other means.
As part of the Asha charter, all Asha chapters have a high degree of freedom in their activities including the identification, research, support and ownership of projects. However, there is also a good deal of co-operation among chapters and volunteers across chapters. This co-operation is evident in the joint ownership of projects across chapters, formation of focus groups across chapters, cross-chapter discussion on issues of interest, worldwide events like the Asha-Wide Conference, Work-An-Hour, and the Asha India Conference.
Asha’s Future – In the future, Asha hopes to continue playing an important role in the socio-economic development of India.
Over the years, Asha has succeeded in touching the lives of thousands of children across the different projects that it has supported. However, we also realize that there is still a lot to be achieved since there are millions of children in India who do not have access to basic education. Debates and discussions are now underway among the volunteers about ways in which we can make a greater impact on the situation. As part of this learning process, we are undertaking projects to evaluate our efforts over the past decade. In the end, we hope to be able to better understand the impact we have had, and where we should focus our efforts.
All said and done, the future holds even more significant challenges for all of us as a people. It is more important than ever that every concerned person pool in his efforts and start working towards addressing these challenges. We, the volunteers of Asha, believe that we are upto these challenges that the future holds for us.
Asha’s Achievements – Today, there are over 66 Asha chapters worldwide: 45 in the US, 14 in India, and 7 in Europe, Singapore and Australia. The organization has more than 1000 active volunteers, more than 400 project partners and several thousand supporters around the world.
Till date, Asha has supported more than 385 different projects spanning 24 states in India. In terms of project funding, almost $17 million (till 2008) has been disbursed to these projects since Asha’s inception. In 2002 alone, Asha chapters raised and disbursed more than $1,000,000 to over 200 projects. The annual reports and our financial statements are available here.
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 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 and full-time volunteers in India and to build closer bonds with our projects. These Asha centers 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.
Asha’s Activities – Clearly, identifying, researching, owning, funding, and sustaining projects has formed the core of Asha’s activities till now. Asha raises funds for its projects in a number of ways: individual donations, corporate donations, sale of merchandise (T-shirts, calendars, mugs, greeting cards, etc.), fundraising dinners, Indian classical music and dance concerts, popular music concerts and many others. In the process, we also promote Indian culture over here.
Some Asha chapters also work towards raising awareness in appropriate forums about various issues affecting the people of India. This awareness-raising is accomplished by organizing discussion series, invited talks and study groups. Asha also acts as a network for various grass-roots workers and volunteers and non-governmental organizations.
If you would like to find out more about us, our activities, and, if you would like to participate and contribute to our efforts in any way, please contact members of the chapter nearest you. We want you to be part of the movement!