ASSET India Foundation

The primary mission of the ASSET is to provide computer literacy for education towards alternate livelihood and as a means of AIDS prevention. The program is designed to assist the children to attain a level of education and familiarity with technology that will enable them to free themselves from being chained to the same profession. The ASSET India Foundation supports Education of the children using Computer Based Functional Literacy and small business ownership using Microfinance.
Dec 7, 2009

A Postcard from

Dear Ray, Vinita, Kiran, and Shayaan, What a pleasure it was to visit your compelling ASSET Program. I so enjoyed interviewing the students, parents, teachers and administrative staff. This program, housed in two small rooms in a low-income neighborhood of Dehli is focused on computer education, English language and Life Skills. The students and parents all felt that their self-confidence has soared since being part of the program. The current job placement rate is 65% but the goal is 90% in the next three years. The students were well-spoken, totally engaged in their learning and this is one of those outstanding programs where everyone seems to be on the same page. Vinita, Kiran, and Shayaan, I was impressed with your understanding of these youth and their many challenges. You truly seems to be changing lives at the ASSET center and, hopefully, my Podcast will be distributed far and wide and help support the continuation of this vitally important program. Thanks for the beautiful flowers and your gracious hospitality. Warmly, Pat Loewi

When asked what he would tell his friends about this project, Pat said: "Incredible: You need to see this!"

Links:

Nov 23, 2009

ASSET Center- Mumbai

Greetings!

The ASSET center in Mumbai was opened earlier this year. The center is located in a dilapidated government school building- in the heart of Kamathipura- Mumbai's red light district! Businesses all around the school including stalls selling everything from cigarettes, vegetables, magazines to phone shops with copiers are controlled by the same people that control the sex trade.

For some unknown reason, the ASSET center and the students that come for the training are left alone.

The results from this center are most gratifying. Students have been placed in jobs that pay well enough to keep the students to stay out of the sex trade. Photos of the students and placement data are in the attachment.

We are in negotiations with three companies that have Rural BPOs in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Our aim is to include the skill requirements of these companies in training so that placement after completion of the training will be easy.

Pat Loewi, an ASSET supporter was in Delhi recently and she has created a documentary which contains interviews with students and parents at the ASSET center in Delhi. The link will be posted here as well as the ASSET India Foundation website shortly.

I highly recommend the book "Half the Sky" by NY Times reporters Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. One of the issues the authors describe is the terrible plight of girls sold into prostitution in India.

Note from Sheryl Wudunn:

From: Sheryl WuDunn Date: Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 10:15 PM <rayu42@gmail.com>

Ray:

Keep up the great work. ASSET is working in an area that needs so much help, so I"m very gratified to hear about what you do. Your daughter must be a remarkable woman. My hearty congratulations to you and to her for all the work that ASSET does. best, Sheryl ********************** Challenges we are addressing:

1. Partner organizations do not address hardware problems in a timely fashion.

2. Every time a PC breaks down, a new replacement PC is expected.

3. Since ASSET requires that each batch consist of 20 students, slum children that don not meet ASSET guidelines are recruited.

4. In order to financially sustain the ASSET project over the long run, I would like to have the students take out microfinance loans to pay their tuition of Rs. 2,500 ( < $60). The plan is to have them repay the loan within 6 months of getting employment. All the students we have placed in jobs so far earn between Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 4,000. In India when something is given for free, people doubt its value. Since this is a non-traditional Microfinance application, I have not been successful so far in a tie-up with a microfinance lender.

Ray Umashankar


Attachments:
Sep 1, 2009

ASSET Partnership with MILLEE-Carnegie Mellon University

I am very pleased to announce a partnership with the MILLEE project directed by Professor Matt Kam of Carnegie Mellon University. I serve as adviser to the MILLEE project.

MILLEE stands for : Mobile and Immersion Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies.

It is centered on Cellphone applications that enable children in the developing world to acquire language literacy game-like environments. MILLEE aims to make localized language learning resources more accessible to underprivileged children, at times and places that are more convenient than schools. The design methodology is based on best practices in commercial language learning packages and the traditional village games that children in the developing world play.

MILLEE has received major technology and financial support from Nokia and the project is being implemented in schools run by the Byrraju Foundation in Andhra Pradesh.

MILLEE will be implemented on a pilot basis at ASSET India Foundation's newest location in Hyderabad "Arunodhaya" which serves more than 100 children of sex workers and HIV infected parents.

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