Oct 10, 2014

NAINA .....Fail Forward Story

Naina - 1st meeting
Naina - 1st meeting


Naina, 13, had walked into our lives in jeans, gaudy multi coloured shirt and the disdainful attitude of a thousand, strutting peacocks writ large on her face, at the inaugural Street Smart meeting, averring, “Mein sab bachon ke leader hoon. Mujse baat karo”, “I am the leader for all children, talk to me.”

Almost everyone’s jaws had dropped!!

Naina, along with Raj & Sunita, was our 1st street child. Bold, unafraid, intelligent, Naina was a natural leader.  She   would help marshal our small group of street kids when we were still working from the pavements, she was part of Street Smart for the following 2 years, accompanying us for outreach, learning the alphabet and math, vocational training in the afternoon and returning to her family every evening.


Naina suddenly disappeared and then we heard she was getting married. She had been sold off to the highest bidder by her family.   She was 15, but the family said she was 18 and there wasn’t a thing we could do about it !. Naina was also a battered child who had been sent off to beg at Astley hall as a young child and beaten if she did not return home with enough money. Her father is an abusive drunk who had threatened to sell her off to the highest bidder, which he did. Her mother is no better.


Hoping for a better future Naina ran away from her groom within a day into the waiting arms of Monty, who she imagined loved her. Within a week, Monty put her to work on the streets as a sex worker. We called in the police, Childline for counseling, admitted Naina into ‘ashrams’, but to no avail. It is now over 2 years that she left Street Smart.


COUNSELLING  - Battered and  abused children need persistent counseling alone and with the families. The family exerts enormous pressure on the child and cannot be ignored. Counselling is now a major part of our work.


STREET SHELTER – There is a tremendous need for a shelter for the most vulnerable. If we had started a shelter 4 years ago, Naina may not have been sold into marriage or become a sex worker. We have 2 separate hostels for girls and boys started in 2013.


CATCHING THEM YOUNG - From the time we took our nascent steps & started interacting with the children on the street, we 'gently' resisted dealing with the kids below the age of 6. Our reasons were compelling - we were not a crèche/'anganwadi' equipped to deal with the wilful, crying tantrums of tots who lunched at their mother's breasts & used any available space as their private loo!

After dealing with the persistent drunken bouts of Rajkumar, his self-inflicted knife wounds, his loneliness.....; Sunita's self-doubts & addiction to 'gutka', Naina's tragic entry into adolescence, we have realised the wisdom of the saying, 'it's easier to build strong children, than to repair broken spirits.'

At the recently started outreach at Kanwali Road, where we get about 80 children every day, at least 35 are between the ages of 3-6. They come charging in at 10am hooting with the very joy of being alive!

We hope to encircle their young lives with love, so that they learn to love & trust, to praise, so that they don't view the world with cynical contemptuousness, to be honest, patient and tolerant & thereby reaffirm their faith in life!


Naina brings to mind Mark Twain’s saying “A hundred fly bites, cannot keep down a spirited horse”.   We sincerely hope Naina does not have to endure those hundred fly bites, we pray each night for her safety, physical and emotional. Because Naina is not only our most ‘spirited horse’, a natural leader, a go getter, she is first and foremost our child, whom we have loved and nurtured for over a year.

We have faith and we believe, sooner or later, Naina will be back. And we are now better equipped and  more experienced to deal with abused, battered children.

Initial Days on the Pavement
Initial Days on the Pavement
Outreach with Naina
Outreach with Naina
Naina at Street Smart
Naina at Street Smart
Aug 29, 2014

Newsletter August - September 2014

August- September 2014


News letter from the Aasraa Trust



Our 1st batch of 40 children will appear for the NIOS exam in March 2015, at our very own NIOS exam centre!

To facilitate our NIOS candidates, a teacher training workshop was organized by State Resource Centre, under the aegis of RLEK.


Our abandoned, mute dynamite, Deepak is undergoing speech therapy after acquiring a hearing aid. And for the 1st time ever he can now say ‘Hello’ and ‘How are you’ !!

Immensely intelligent, with an innate ability to think on his feet, Deepak is a blessing and we are very lucky we have him!


We wish to thank all our wonderful friends for the tremendous support you gave us that earned us the 3rd highest ranking among 342 NGOs worldwide.

We were invited as speakers to the 1st Summit organized by Global Giving. This helped Aasraa to come out of the woods, so to speak, to interact with NGOs from all over India & Nepal.

The icing on the cake was when a photograph (taken by Erin Steigerwalt) submitted by us was shortlisted for the photo competition.


Shyam, 22, physically challenged, begging till 3 years ago, has evolved as a master block printer under the nurturing guidance of JOYN.

JOYN has sponsored surgery on Shyam’s right leg and foot to enable him to walk normally.


For the 1st time in Dehradun and probably in the whole of Uttarakhand , the immunization of street and slum children was carried out. 550 children were vaccinated for Typhoid, Tetanus & Hepatitis B. The blood grouping of the children was also done.

The drive was sponsored by AshaJyothi USA, an organization of concerned Indians living in the US. The immunization was conducted at Sakya Hospital and the pathology work done by Ahuja Pathology.

Our grateful thanks to Ravi Kantamsetty, Sailaja Ganty and the empathetic team of AshaJyothi USA; to the Director & Ms.Tsering for conducting the drive at Sakya Hospital so efficiently; to Alok & Alka Ahuja for the blood work that was carried out.

Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM)

We have registered for the ADHM 2014, to be held in Delhi on November 23rd.

We would greatly appreciate corporate sponsors for our runners .  Details available at :






Jul 25, 2014

Thank You Donors for Supporting Our Children

Children from Bindal Slum
Children from Bindal Slum

Hello Supporters!  

First of all, we, at Aasraa Trust, would like to thank you all for your donations and continued support.  

In Dehradun, there are approximately 3 – 4 thousand children, living in slums, who are registered in Government Schools, but do not attend school.  Many of these children are found in slums, such as the Bindal Slum pictured below.  These children are subjected to several types of abuse including, physical, sexual, emotional, and mental.  Some even grow harmful addictions to tobacco and/or whitener when living on the streets.  

Aasraa Trust’s work focuses on reaching out to children in slums and on the streets, including beggars, rag pickers, and child labourers, through a variety of different programs which follow a progression to adequately support and prepare the child for school.  Our several outreach programs prepare the children for our Street Smart Programs.  The Street Smart program gives these children a basic elementary level education, focusing on basic math and literacy rates.  After this program, we help children enroll and attend mainstream schools throughout the city.  In addition, we also offer an afterschool program, Wings of Doon, which provides supplementary education and a support system for the children.  Finally, each of our programs strives to give the children adequate access to nutrition, medicine, health care, and shelter to those who require it.  

Right now, we have reached out to approximately 655 children through our various programs, taking the children from the streets into schools. 92 of those children have been mainstreamed into schools. 


Since the Global Giving Challenge, a 163 more children have joined us. 18 children have been mainstreamed in just one month.  15 of these 18 children have been provided with residential facilities to ensure they stay in an area where schools exist.  These children live in a governmental residential school called PurvaMadhyamikVidalaya until Class VIII. They are all attending St. Agnes, which is affiliated with the CBSE Board and will complete high school.  

On July 3rd, 145 more children began to attend our supportive and supplementary afterschool program for mainstreamed children, Wings of Doon. 

We are also excited to announce that we have been approved by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) to allow children to sit for an examination as a chance to enroll in an age appropriate level. Through this, we have 33 more children who have an opportunity to apply and go to a formal, mainstream school. 


The Story of Kalawati & Shubham

Kalawati is ten years old and an orphan.  We found Kalawati living on the street with an old woman who had looked after her since the demise of Kalawati’s parents. Even with this old woman taking care of her, living on the streets as a young girl puts Kalawati at risk of abuse and harm. Supported by Aasraa Trust, Kalawati is now staying at Government Junior High School. Delighted to live there and receive a good education, she has shown a huge improvement. Right now, she is in Class II and is a bright, active young girl.  Although she has a shifting behavioral problem, her dedicated teacher and hostel warden supervise her studies and her overall wellbeing. 


Another resident at one of our hostel facilities is Shubham, a 13-year-old boy who lost his father at the age of three. After the death, his mother was denied all support from her mother-in-law. This forced her, along with her three daughters and two sons, to migrate from Jharkhand in search of a livelihood. Shubham’s mother has worked to earn a daily wage at various construction sites.  She is currently employed as a construction labourer in the Dehradun district.  None of Shubham’s four siblings have studied beyond Class V due to their family’s financial constraints.  Shubham is the only one who has continued with his studies, and is currently in Class VIII. He was admitted into the St. Agnes School. Shubham has proved to be prudent, responsible, and an earnest learner. One day, Shubham wants to become an entrepreneur and start his own business.   


QUOTE FROM ONE OF OUR CHILDREN, Vikram: “I want to study and become a policeman, so that nobody can beat my mother. I also want to do something for my country.”


Thank you again for all your support throughout the Global Giving Challenge!  Without supporters like you, children like Kalawati and Shubham would not have had the same chance to attend a mainstream school. 

Dismal Condition of Bindal Slum
Dismal Condition of Bindal Slum
Orphan Kalawati
Orphan Kalawati
After School Tutorial Programme
After School Tutorial Programme
Initiation into Education
Initiation into Education
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