Asha Seattle The Seattle chapter of Asha for Education Thu, 23 Mar 2023 03:01:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Story of Shivani Tue, 11 Sep 2018 19:28:41 +0000 “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”
― Alexander Den Heijer

When Shivani’s parents moved to Pune this February in search of work she was at risk of missing out on education. Children of migrant construction workers are at serious risk of dropping out of school when their parents relocate in search of work.

Door Step School is a non-profit organization focused on literacy, primary education, and childcare for the urban poor. It was founded in Mumbai in 1989 and started work in Pune in 1993. Project Foundation is its direct education program at construction sites in Pune, delivering daycare and education to children of construction workers. Asha for Education, Seattle chapter has been supporting this project since 2005.

Door Step School staff assess, teach, and continuously track their students, both in terms of academic progress, and their location with their families as they move about in search of livelihood. Shivani was one such girl who was helped by Door Step.

Shivani is an 11 year-old girl from a remote village in Maharashtra, about 550 km northeast of Pune. In February, her family migrated to Pune as local farming work dried out in the village. In Pune, her parents found work at a construction site in the Kharadi locality. Shivani and her siblings, who all attended school earlier in the village, were able to continue their education at the construction site, in the Educational Activity Center (EAC) run by Door Step School.

When she entered the EAC in February, Shivani could read mātrā-s (vowel signs) but was not able to read compound words correctly. Within three months at Door Step School, she could fluently read paragraphs with compound words. She could also read and write small paragraphs on given topics. as she confidently demonstrated during a visit by an Asha volunteer in April. She wrote a beautiful short essay about her school on the spot in 5 minutes.

Different teaching methods — including project methods, story reading, “joḍākṣhar sarāv pustikā” (compound letter practice booklet) — were used to enhance Shivani’s reading skills with comprehension in Door Step School.

In June, her family migrated back to their home village when farming labor work resumed there at the start of the rainy season. Door Step School has confirmed that she is continuing school in the village in class 7.

Shivani’s story is indicative of the detailed and painstaking work by Door Step School staff to assess, teach, and continuously track their students, both in terms of academic progress, and their location with their families as they move about in search of livelihood. The students, the teachers, and the staff at Door Step School inspire us with their unique approach, creative techniques, and hard work to meet the unique educational needs of the families of migrant construction workers.

Shivani is able to read and write today because of the kindness of donors like you. Help us reach more such kids by donating on our facebook fundraiser page or on our website. 

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Story of Krishna Halder Fri, 24 Aug 2018 23:00:33 +0000 Champa Mahila Society is an organization based in the small town of Basanti, Sunderban, near Kolkata in India. It was founded in 1984 and currently runs 32 non-formal schools, in addition to an orphanage, a women’s support group, and a healthcare center. Asha for Education is one of the sponsors of CMS. Below is a story of one of the many people who have a better life, thanks to CMS and Asha for Education:

My name is Krishna Halder. I am a physically-challenged student. I was born in a very poor family. I was shunned by society, because of my disability. My parents were too poor to send me to school, but I was determined to be educated.

In my quest to go to school, I met Mr. Amal, who referred me to an organization called “Champa Mahila Society”. CMS which was funded by Asha for Education, admitted me into their special-needs children program. I passed Secondary and Higher Secondary examinations in First Class. This enabled me to enroll into the Philosophy (Hons.) Program at Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandir. I graduated from this program in 2017 with excellent marks and the Swami Adbhutananda Gold Medal. I am currently a student of a Masters’ Program and have passed the West Bengal College Service Commission examination.

My academic success would never have been possible if I hadn’t had access to education. I am really thankful to the organization, “Asha For Education, Seattle Chapter” for their financial   support, over the years. Mr. Amal, Suma Di, Aparajita Di, Swati Di, Padmanava Da, and the hermits of Ramkrishna Mission, Belur Math, have been my constant sources of inspiration. Asha for Education inspires me to give back to society, in any way I can.
Thank you,

Krishna Halder.

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Happy Independence Day! Wed, 15 Aug 2018 19:27:27 +0000

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history

– Mohandas Gandhi

At Asha for Education, we take a holistic approach to drive socio-economic change in India through the education of underprivileged children.

In the year 2017, Asha hit the following milestones:

  • $4.3 million disbursed to India
  • Supported 196 grassroots projects in India
  • Impacted 240,000 children

All of this has been possible with the concerted effort of 1500+volunteers in more than 52 chapters and You, our patrons!

This Independence Day, we are kicking off our first ‘Education For Everyone’ campaign and we hope you will support us in making our dream more of a reality, a dream of enabling everyone to reach their true potential, by providing education to everyone irrespective of caste, race, religion or economic background. There are many ways to contribute, from monetary donations to volunteering your time, representing grassroots projects and supporting us with chapter level activities.

We published a newsletter on the occasion and we are here to share that article with you all.

Please support us during this campaign by donating on our web page or our Facebook fundraiser


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Story of Naksh Fri, 15 Jun 2018 23:04:42 +0000 “Before a constraint shows up in the world it shows up in the mind and exists in agreements that are formed. The fundamental barrier for people is, this agreement, that there are only a limited set of possibilities for differently abled people. ”

Astha aspires to ignite the dreams of the differently abled and the world about what is newly possible.

Astha is a non-profit organization founded as an outreach project in the slum communities of Govindpuri, in South Delhi. Since 1996, Astha has been providing rehabilitation services to children with disabilities such as polio, blindness, speech and hearing impairments, epilepsy, mental retardation, and cerebral palsy. It is one of the few cross-disability organizations working with adults and children, irrespective of the type and severity of the disability. Asha for Education, Seattle Chapter has been supporting this project since 1998.

Naksh is a 5-year-old boy living with his parents at Okhla. He has cerebral palsy, due to which he cannot control his body’s movements. Being untrained in dealing with a disabled child, Naksh’s family only fed him soft foods, which left him undernourished. He was unable to communicate and interact with society.

“Nobody signs up to have a child with special needs. Then you realize that this is a gift, this child is the light. And if you can nourish that light and let it shine, you have an opportunity to get closer to God, and that’s grace” – John C. McGinley

When Naksh’s mother heard about Astha, she started bringing him to the center, regularly. At Astha, they trained her to feed Naksh nutritious food, to improve his health. Naksh has been provided with a wheelchair, as well as a special chair for his postural balance. He has also learnt to communicate using sign language and participates eagerly in classroom activities. Naksh’s parents are filled with hope and continue to work with him, under the watchful eye of Astha’s compassionate and expert counselors.

Please watch this touching and inspiring video of how Astha is helping parents of children with special needs.

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Volunteer Spotlight – Garima Bangard Fri, 15 Jun 2018 22:47:08 +0000 Our PR Team took some time to talk to our long-time volunteer Garima Bangard who has taken several roles over the years and played a significant role in shaping our treasury team and streamlining our funds tracking and budgeting process. We have highlighted some of her answers here.

Good morning, Garima. Tell me about what you do as an Asha volunteer.

I play few different roles for Asha. I have been the treasurer for the Seattle chapter for the last three years. I am an event coordinator. I have been the project steward for the project Muskaan for the last 7 years and have been nominated to the Asha central treasury role this year.

How did you get involved with Asha?

In 2010, a friend invited me to a chapter meeting. After the meeting, a volunteer chatted with me and asked me if I’d be interested in in a role as co-steward for the project Muskaan from Bhopal. I have been the project steward since then.

What is project Muskaan?

Muskaan is an organization that supports the education to children from the bastis (slums) of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. The organization’s primary focus is on the education of children unable to access mainstream schools through its education programs for schools, preschool, and residential camps. The communities they work with are schedule tribes such as Gond and Pardhi who come from the tribal regions of Madhya Pradesh. This community’s primary occupation is rag picking from the streets of Bhopal and being day time labors. It is so impressive to see the impact that Muskaan has made in the lives to the otherwise backward communities of Bhopal.

What was your motivation for working on this project?

I guess this goes back to my childhood. I grew up in a rural and backward area of MP where we did not have easy access to good schools. Fortunately, my family could afford to send me to a quality school though it was far from where we lived. Many of my friends were not so lucky. I knew that they could do much better at studies if they went to better schools. This thought has stayed with me since. Giving kids access to quality education early is important. Muskaan reaches out to 800 kids every year in 23 slums of Bhopal.

How have you managed to sustain the initial surge of excitement over all these years?

I’m reminded of my first site visit for the project. That was one big reason. The visit was to a building that the government had donated to Muskaan. It was the month of April or May and the children sat under a tin roof. I still remember how hot it was. There was no fan or anything. But, I was amazed to see that the children had smiles on their faces and were genuinely happy to be there. It was an instructive moment for me. To see such small children being happy with such scarce resources was inspiring. I came off from that experience wanting to do more for them. There have been many such moments since.

Very nice! Have you been able to help them in the way you intended on your first visit?

I think so. As a steward for the project, other than the recurring support for the program expenses every year, I have been able to get Asha to support the construction of a school for Muskaan at the budget of Rs.1.3 crore. This took 3.5 years and Asha provided 44 lakhs of the total funds. Asha also supported in the development of computer lab, recording and pottery studio in the new building by sending 9.3 lacs in 2017. I’m proud of the part I was able to play in making this happen.

Wonderful! In a way, you kept the promise that you made to yourself on your first site visit. You are also the events coordinator for Asha. Tell me more about that.

When I started with Asha, there was no dedicated events team in the Seattle chapter. I still remember the first time I participated in hosting of an event. I saw a $1000 check donated by somebody in the audience. That was when the impact of what we do struck me. It is one thing to look at fundraising dollar figures on a spreadsheet and quite another to actually hold a $1000 check that somebody donated at an event that you planned!

Later, I helped form the events team and was among the first few events coordinators. The events team is responsible for everything from ideation of new events to planning, negotiating contracts, handling logistics of events, bringing sponsors, executing on the day of the event and maintaining ongoing relationships with our event partners. We are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to spread the word about Asha and to reach new donors and volunteers through our events.

That sounds important to get right for Asha. Does this relate, at all, to your day job? How did you the gain the skills to perform this role?

My day job has nothing to do with event planning. We gained these skills in the process of doing these things for Asha. There are, of course, certain skills than you gain at work that you naturally use here and vice versa. For instance, presentation skills, planning, delegation, mentoring junior volunteers and handling interpersonal issues are all skills I have gained while volunteering for Asha. They have served me well in my regular job too.

You mentioned that you are also the treasurer for the Seattle chapter. How did you learn to perform those duties?

I am an accountant. So, it is somewhat related to my profession. But there are things I do here that I have not done on my day job. For instance, budgeting and accounting for a non-profit is something that I’ve done only for Asha. As with the case of event planning, I had to pick up these skills on the job.

As somebody that wears so many hats for Asha, how much time do you end up spending in a typical week?

There is no typical week. There is a huge variation in how much time I spend during different times of the year. On a busy week, I might spend up to 6-8 hours.

Where does this time come from? What have you had to sacrifice to make time for Asha?

Nothing much actually. Time can be made by being more deliberate about how you spend it. There are many small pockets of time during the day when you can complete small tasks. This could be when you are waiting for something. For instance, it takes only couple minutes to send a quick reply to an email.

As somebody with such breadth of experience working for Asha, what is your advice to somebody considering volunteering for Asha?

Just do it! Many people worry that they might sign up to spend a lot of time and might not be able to do it. Don’t worry about it. We understand. Asha is a 100% volunteer run organization and everybody here is juggling work, family and volunteering work. We are all like you! The reason this system works is that we can pick up each other’s’ slack. There will be times when your work gets super hectic and you might not be able to fulfill your Asha responsibilities. There may be times when your family is going through a crisis. We understand. There is never a perfect time to join. Just join and see how it goes. The beautiful thing about Asha is that we can customize the volunteer experience to you and work within your time constraints. There is something for everyone. Like to work alone in your own space? No problem. Like to be social and have fun while doing a  something meaningful? No problem. Start by attending a volunteer orientation and see where it leads.

Finally, as a veteran Asha member, what do you think Asha could do better?

Asha could do a better job of telling its story. We do such tremendous work. But a lot of people aren’t aware of what we do. We need to do a better job of spreading awareness about Asha and work that we do.


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Junior Asha Fri, 15 Jun 2018 22:32:20 +0000 Junior Asha Seattle

Junior Asha (JA) is the youth wing of Asha for Education – Seattle Chapter where kids (12-18 years old) participate in local events, spread awareness about Asha and raised funds.On March 24th Nayha, Shrutika, Mehak and Arjun from JA participated in the Teen Action event at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and held a booth to showcase the work of Asha and Junior Asha using the example of Adruta Children’s Home.  Keeping with the theme of the event – Empathy, the JA team engaged the audience by quizzing them with questions such as “What percentage of people are homeless in India?” Many people realized that their numbers were way off and that the situation of the underprivileged was worse than they had imagined.

Another event was the Big Climb for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) on March 25th.  10 Junior Asha teens volunteered for the event with the help of Junior Asha mentors Archana Mehta and Dheepa Ramani. The kids split into two groups and cheered the climbers and runners as they completed their climb up 73 flights of stairs at the Columbia Center.  In the process, they interacted with children who have survived the disease and families of children who were not so lucky. Exposure to such difficult life circumstances is part of the experience from which JA teens derive inspiration and empathy.

JA has planned additional events for this summer. Details about these events can be found on the Junior Asha page.

We intend to keep you connected on what’s happening at Asha for Education via these newsletters. We look forward to hearing your suggestions and comments. Our contact e-mail id is Please check the events page on our website for upcoming events.

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I am Asha – Kesava Viswanathan Fri, 03 Mar 2017 20:39:17 +0000 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

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I am Asha – Kamini Fri, 03 Mar 2017 20:32:48 +0000 Asha Seattle was introduced to me in 1998 through my kid’s fancy dress parade. My elder son was 3 years old and he had dressed up as Mahatma Gandhi. In that event, Asha for Education’s mission inspired me and my husband so much that we started making donations to Asha. We attended various Asha’s cultural events like Geetanjali and AllGoRythms. My son participated in junior Asha when he was in high school where he learnt a lot about India and its culture.

Whenever I made donations, attended events and took my son to junior Asha, I wondered, “People working behind these scenes must be passionate about making India a better country”. Their dedication is seen clearly in all events. I wanted to become an Asha volunteer since then but I started only earlier this year. I am really proud to be part of the Asha team of volunteers. In our bimonthly chapter meetings, I was amazed seeing the team working sincerely until 8.30pm to review a funding request, for a school run for underprivileged children, for a school run for physically challenged children, to review a new long term project, review a one-time funding request for a recent disaster happened in India like Chennai flood, plan an upcoming event and so on.

I have always seen an extreme level of respect to ideas, maturity and intelligence displayed in all meetings. It doesn’t stop there, plenty of follow ups and updates happen constantly to make them happen. I realized that all of them have a family to take care and a full time job, still they volunteer enthusiastically for Asha. Looking at them I thought, ‘Asha work has become part of their life. Is this the definition of Passion and dedication?’

I am so proud to serve for Asha and looking forward to be part of all wonderful things Asha is going to do in the upcoming years.

-Kamini Parasurama


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