Apr 6, 2016

AASRAA - Homing the homeless


Dear Friends,

This month we bring you a perspective from a young volunteer, Aditi , who has volunteered with us, between studies, for the last 4 years. 

Aasraa: Homing the Homeless

Aasraa Trust is an organization dedicated to nurturing and preserving the very vital resources of any nation: children. Aasraa seeks to provide opportunity, education, nutrition and medical attention to the kids of our streets and slums in and around Dehradun. More than that, Aasraa provides these often- forsaken, neglected and marginalised kids with a chance to play fair and live a life of dignity and purpose. Their motto,  is to-“level the playing field.”

Aasraa,  has successfully zeroed in on the major problems that arise with having a vision that is as noble as is ambitious, videlicet, the monumental difficulties involved in inducing a seminal change in the mind-set of people who still don’t see the right to education being as fundamental as the right to freedom. I can now fully appreciate the verity of this statement as I write, as avouched by my experience with the Outreach Team, which I would like to call the “lifeline” of Aasraa. This team faces tremendous challenges in dispensing its services; getting kids to understand why they need to know the alphabet is by no means, child’s play, literally. Moreover, given their social stratum and the customs these kids swear by, a categorical lack of moral and social etiquettes simply spells greater effort on the part of the team. Working with them was a grim jolt of reality, a realisation that caught me in the very pit of my stomach. With them I got to explore a side of Doon I thought never existed; a dark truth that lies hidden in the slums of Govindgarh and Bindal. I was shocked to learn about the stark conditions that our street children live in and the constant jeopardy of the street they battle every day. We read about such things often; but to actually see it in person at close quarters is quite another thing and to think that one needs to pay to live in the places that these kids do is simply outrageous and unfortunate. It gave my heart immense pleasure to see the Outreach Team at work there, bringing light into the lives of these bright-eyed kids who have nowhere to go.

Aasraa’s holistic approach to ameliorating these kids is quite structured and commendable. The various bridge courses and remedial classes are well-intentioned and I met some really talented kids on board the centres which administer the same. Almost every kid here is a living story, waiting to tell itself.  Never before has interacting with people been such a pleasing task for an introvert like me. The friendships and bonds fostered in the process will remain beyond time. The teachers and ancillary staff are very dedicated and dutiful; they take great pride and joy in their work. It is thrilling to see Aasraa invests not only in the little angels of Doon, but also in the Change Agents it employs to guide them. Workshops to whet and hone teaching skills as well as to revise pedagogical equipment and ideology in order to obtain optimal results is a refreshing measure. An equally appealing concept is the incorporation of  meals, clothes for winter, and the like. The sensitive timing for various projects and myriad in-situ functioning norms especially of the mobile learning centres under the Anti Begging Campaign (ABC) are revealing of the effective cogent strategising followed here. Though the regular teething troubles straddle  projects under the ABC,  by  way of audio-visual infotainment, doles and handing out important tasks to these kids, invokes a sense of responsibility dormant in them. It’ll certainly go a long way in polishing the rough diamonds we have.

Another remarkable thing I observed was the relation that these kids share with their mentors. They more or less recognise that Aasraa is truly a haven for them. The older kids from the hostel profess tremendous gratitude for Aasraa; and they have very colourful dreams. The kids adore their teachers and enjoy the activity days where they have fun engaging in creative and fun exercises. They eagerly wait for their computer and music classes; and show great aptitude for them. Aasraa really has made humongous efforts to ensure their kids can partake of every facility the technological revolution has to offer. Music classes are a much-needed break from the classroom drudgery.

Aasraa also acknowledges the fact that formal education isn’t really the answer to every child’s upliftment, given the backgrounds the kids have. The fact that people still give to begging kids means a greater opportunity cost associated with everything they do save begging. To circumvent this catch in a way-of-sorts, Aasraa also provides vocational training like sewing and block printing in conjunction with basic literacy so that children can lead a dignified and respectful life. This is a praiseworthy contraption to wean kids from begging.

All said and done, Aasraa is doing a magnanimous job and shows a lot of promise to become a premier institution devoted to kids who have nowhere to go. Working with Aasraa was a larger than life experience. It gently synchronised the blue-sky and rosy notions of a naïve enthusiast like me with the ground reality. Where 5 kids will turn down an opportunity to a better and respectable life with education due to circumstances, there’s a kid who will step up to Aasraa and ask them to hold their hand. Being with them exposed a lot of questions to me, questions to which I might not have any answers now. But I leave with questions, and a readiness to search for answers vis-a-vis the relatively uninformed state I came in. And I think it sure beats ignorance, which has no glory.

Aasraa has really restored my faith in humanity and it makes me feel hopeful for all the wonderful kids we have with us. These kids, though different in every aspect, are strikingly similar when it comes to the way they regard you. They have the same look in their eyes-a beautiful, haunting, searching and curious look, and it seemed to speak directly to me: “Who are you? Are you willing to love us? To accept us for who we are?” It is a look that craves love, affection and acceptance. And it is here I see hope for these kids, for Aasraa, for humanity itself. If human beings crave for love, maybe the world can be saved. I leave with a heavy heart, but a warm afterglow that’ll stay with me for the years to come.

Thank you Aasraa for all that you do and this wonderful opportunity to work with you.


Volunteer Aditi 

Mar 8, 2016

Newsletter 2016

The Doon Promise

A Newsletter from Aasraa Trust January- March 2016


Vikram Lal joins Aasraa’s Board of Trustees

With great pride, we would like to announce that Mr. Vikram Lal, former Chairman of Eicher Group, has joined Aasraa’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Lal has been a supporter of Aasraa since its inception. 




Aasraa Trust felicitated at the Rotary Club Conference

Panchsheel District Conference 2016 was organized by the Rotary Club Dehradun on 20th February 2016. Aasraa Trust's flagship project, 'Education on the Move' was showcased at the conference. Ms. Shaila Brijnath, Chairman, Aasraa Trust was felicitated during the event for her contribution towards empowering street & slum children of Dehradun.





Aasraa’s journey featured in The Better India website

Aasraa featured on TheBetterIndia.com, a website that showcases positive news about India including stories on social development, art, travel, environment, women empowerment, NGOs, education & much more. Our heartfelt thanks to all our well-wishers for their unconditional support over the years.




Shiva, Govind and Mahi join the hostel

Shiva, 14, orphaned by the Nepal earthquake, was taken to Mumbai by his maternal uncle and left to do hard manual labor with a construction contractor. He ran away after a few months and  was brought to Aasraa through the Police and Childline. Shiva is ‎confident, ‎articulate and ‎fearless. He has an education upto Class 8 and will be enrolled in school in the coming academic session. 

Govind, 14, a runaway, came to Aasraa through the Police and Childline in December 2015. Govind has adjusted well in the hostel and wishes to continue his education from here. He will be enrolled into a regular school or through National Institute of Open Schooling in the coming academic year.

Mahi, 18, an orphan, ran away from home after facing harrasment by family members. She was brought to Aasraa through Child Welfare Commitee in February 2016. Mahi will be trained in a profession of her choice in the coming year. 



Our heartfelt thanks to the faculty of Welham Boys’ School and Purkal Youth Development Society for conducting English & Maths teacher’s training workshops for the teachers of Aasraa Trust.


Aasraa kids win top prizes in school competitions!

Deepak, a student at Bajaj institute of Learning won multiple prizes in athletics at his school's sports day. Deepak is a child with special needs who has shown great promise with technology as well.

Our resident nightingale Anjali Negi, a student of Class 8 in Olympus High School won the third prize in her school's signing competition recently.

Top prizes were won by Aasraa students at the Learners Engagement Activity organised by National Institute of Open Schooling in Doon Valley Public School, Deoband. Activities included role playing, creative writing,poster making & yoga.



Special Thanks

Christmas celebrations for Aasraa kids

A Christmas Carnival was organised by Pearl Charitable Society for 600 children of Aasraa Trust. The carnival was full of fun, food, dancing and gifts.  

St. Judes School graciously invited our kids to celebrate Christmas at their school. An enjoyable day of singing, dancing, sumptuous food, gifts and love. 

A BIG thank you to Mr. Sumit Garg and Mrs. Michelle Gardner for their loving support. 

Warm clothing for 1000+ children of Aasraa

A warm thank you to all our supporters worldwide, for their generous contribution which ensured 1000+ children of Aasraa were kept warm and snug through out the winters of 2015.

Jan 29, 2016

Aasraa Trust celebrates India's 67th Republic Day in the slum community of Govindgarh

India celebrated her 67th Republic Day on 26th January 2016. Joining the nation in the celebration was Aasraa Trust with over 200 children, teachers and slum community members of the Govindgarh area in Dehradun. Govindgarh is the heart of the 'basti' community where our street & slum children reside.

Aasraa Trust runs four important programs in this area- which includes 2 Street Smart programs to initiate children into basic literacy and two After School programs for mainstremed children. Our Outreach Team start their community outreach every morning from this area. They interact with family members and reltives regarding the importance of education and strenghten their relationship in the community. They collect children and bring them into our learning centres. This is the first step of a child's journey into joining mainstream school. At this stage, we prepare children to be a part of a classroom enviornment.We focus on hygiene lessons, grooming, poems, sing alongs, story telling, music, art & craft and playing games.

Aasraa also runs After school projects in the area to provide concept and homework support to children who attend local schools.Besides education, Aasraa provides for nutritional and medical needs of the children. With the suppport of Max India Foundation and Vitamin Angels, Aasraa successfully provided vitamin supplements and completed immunization drives against Typhoid last year.

Community based events are of great importance as they allow us to meet and interact with families and opinion makers of the community. Parents, grandparents, children, siblings, teachers and staff members get a platform to meet and greet, showcase talent, address important issues during such a gathering.

This Republic Day program included flag hoisting, speeches made by children and teachers, singing patriotic songs and distribution of laddoos and other refreshments. Message of peace, harmony, unity,cleanliness and importance of education were the highlights of the event.

Through efforts like these, we hope to bring the community closer, influence opinions and bring in more children in need of love, care, opportunity and education into the Aasraa fold.

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