Working for the poor of Delhi
The population of Delhi, India is 16 million and one fourth of this population lives in the slums. Conditions are appalling, with a lack of education and access to basic amenities causing inhabitants to get trapped in a life of poverty and deprivation. Asha provides support, education and healthcare for these people, giving them the motivation and abilities to make lasting changes to their lives.
Asha works in partnership with over 700,000 people in 91 slum communities in Delhi. It provides health services and training for community members, particularly women, so that they can take responsibility for their health and that of their fellow slum residents. Asha runs health centres within slums, giving people desperately-needed access to affordable healthcare and advice, and helps people to get access to advanced medical treatment that they would otherwise be denied.
A comprehensive training programme enables slum residents to gain skills and use the knowledge to access the services and infrastructure improvements that are among their basic rights. Asha ensures that all men, women and children are aware of their rights, and gives them the support that they need to attain them. The interventions to empower communities range from work on gender equality to education and microcredit, and all of them have potential to help people break free from the cycle of poverty.
Slum dwellers are hugely disadvantaged by the environment in which they live. Asha strives to improve conditions by raising awareness, training and motivating slum residents to gain improvements, and by pressurising the Government to make the necessary changes. Water pumps, toilet facilities and adequate drainage are just some of the amenities that can make a real difference to the lives of the slum communities where Asha works.
Asha’s Education Programme aims to provide education and skills for children in slum communities. The programme ensures that children go to school and further proceed to complete their higher education. Parents are sensitised on the impact that education can have on the lives of children if they attend regular college. Since 2008, Asha has been able to enroll over 2000 students in different colleges under Delhi University. It has also facilitated the admission process for students interested in technical courses.
Under its Mentorship Programme, Asha helps students from slum communities to connect with professionals. One professional (mentor) is assigned one student (mentee) to help him/her develop skills and knowledge that are needed for personal and professional growth.
Through the Internship Programme, college students are exposed to professional work environment with the objective of helping these youngsters learn basic workplace skills and norms. The students, through this arrangement, get an ‘on the job’ training in their field of study. Such work experiences are highly useful for these students while applying for a job. The employers also feel more confident to hire students when certain work experience details are reflected in their Curriculum Vitae.
The Asha Ambassador Programme continues to bring together Asha’s brightest students who volunteer their time to help their younger fellow students excel in academics. Besides spreading awareness about the importance of education in their own community, this year these student Ambassadors were able to reach out to 182 students belonging to other new slums. They, therefore, continue to guide and support other students in their tertiary education.