I have always felt that education is the key to a successful, productive lifestyle and the way out of poverty for developing nations like India. When I decided to spend more of my personal time volunteering, it was natural for me to look for an education based charitable organization. One day I saw the online invitation one year ago from Asha for education for attending a new volunteer introductory session, and my wife and I decided to attend. The sincerity of the volunteers and the impact that they had on the schools they were supporting was inspiring and I signed up to become the project steward of two schools near Bangalore, one in Bangalore itself, and the other in Andhra Pradesh.
The role of the project steward is to build a relationship with the leadership of the school, gain an understanding of the school’s functioning, its challenges and needs and serve as their sponsor within Asha for Education. The steward is responsible for visiting the school whenever possible, and presenting their funding needs to the board of Asha for Education.
Meeting the founders of the schools (over the phone) and working with them and the Asha organization to obtain funding was very encouraging. I was helped a great deal by a mentor and the Asha approach, which I found to be quite appealing. One another aspect of the Asha approach which I found appealing was that I engaged directly with the schools and their founders, and I had a lot of flexibility to help.
What really “sealed the deal” for me was a visit to one of the schools I supported during my last visit to India (Sumavanam in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh). Seeing the simple school set up (mud roof building children sitting on the floor and studying), the gleam in the eyes of the children and the care that the teachers were taking, was so moving that, my wife and I came back convinced, that supporting these schools was the right thing to do, and that we were making a difference, even if it was small against the overall challenges that the schools faced. Our contributions are minor compared to what the school teachers and founders are investing in time, energy and effort.
All told, though our journey with Asha is still fairly young, it is very meaningful to us, and I look forward to contributing more over time, and by making a difference in young lives through education.
– Kesava Viswanathan