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Sep 11, 2017

With Wings She Flies!

We firmly believe future is created, not predetermined. With this in mind we approach every new child, every new community with the determination to try and make a difference. EVERY ACCOMPLISHMENT STARTS WITH THE DECISION TO TRY!

At Aasraa, we aim to ensure that every marginalized child in Dehradun thrive under our care. Our “Street Smart” program has succeeded in providing basic literacy education to the children who never attended any school or had been the drop-outs. With an objective of mainstreaming them into regular schools along with improving their health and nutrition levels, the program makes certain that more and more children in Dehradun get access to better education. However, these children, due to their poor backgrounds and lack of exposure, struggle hard to cope with the academic standards at regular schools. This leads to their poor performance and gradual sense of failure in the classrooms. This is where Aasraa’s after school support program ‘Wings of Doon’ plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality of their learning. This program fortifies the impact of our Street Smart program; raising the standards of our children in schools and radically improving their ability to grasp in classrooms. Our Wings program has grown from 50 children to over 1058 across 8 centres in Dehradun.

This month, we are happy to share with you Mansi’s story which perfectly exemplifies our commitment to transform the lives of children like her into meaningful existences.

Mansi's father suffered from a mental disability which wasn't diagnosed or treated. His mother wanted to get him married and eventually "bought" a bride for him for INR 10,000. He used to do odd jobs at a tea stall in his locality and earned a small amount from this. The primary bread-earner in the family is Mansi's grandmother who works as domestic help in two separate houses. It was an extremely dissatisfied marriage and Mansi's mother abandoned the family when Mansi was just 6 months old and the older son Himanshu was just a year and half.

Mansi's father has an older sister who is bedridden. She sustained severe head injuries when she fell from the roof of her house as a kid and has been partially paralyzed since then. So also lives in the same house and the grandmother takes care of her as well. Last year, Mansi's father passed away. Mansi, who was a regular at Aasraa's Street Smart program stopped coming to study after that. Only when our outreach team went to her house, we found the problems that the family was going through.

Mansi's grandmother is now taking care of Mansi, her brother and her own daughter who is disabled. Aasraa is trying to help her by every means. It costs us INR 18,000 per year to support her education in school which includes school fees, stationary and uniforms. Over and above this, we currently support Mansi's family with rations and medical aid. This amounts to roughly INR 30,000 per year.

We are proud to share with you all that Mansi has been recently mainstreamed into Sneha Doon Academy in Dehradun. Under the Wings program, she discovered the joy and infinite wonder of learning in classrooms and interacting with peers at the school. A sincere pupil, who likes playing with her dolls, she dreams of a world beyond the classroom. Aasraa believes that with her quiet determination, Mansi has strong potential to leave her mark upon the world.

We are extremely grateful to our donors and well wishers for their support and encouragement towards our programs and children. Their unwavering support has strengthened our capacity and resources to provide greater benefits to the children at our learning centres. We strongly believe that together we can and we will bring the positive change to their lives.

Sep 6, 2017

Education on the Move!

Aasraa has proudly grown from 35 street and slum children to 1800 since its inception in 2009. However, there are still numerous children in Dehradun who are willing to learn and go to school but are unable to access the necessary platforms. Children who rag pick cannot attend school, the timings clash. Economic necessity forces them to work. Rag picking children start at dawn and do not finish before the start of school and as they cannot enter school late, they forfeit any chance at literacy.

Aasraa wanted to address the issues of illiteracy and lack of skill training amongst children and young adults living on the streets & slums of Dehradun. Both issues stop the children from leading a respectable life in the future. While the rest of the world progresses into the 21st century, these children are still far away from accessing the right opportunity to learn and earn a decent living due to their social and economic conditions.

Traditionally, we have rented buildings in the slum area and converted them into learning centres. But buildings are expensive to rent and run. Location of the building is of prime importance as proximity to the slum works in favor of the success of the project. If these children cannot go to school, Aasraa decided to take the school to them through these centres. These centres are buses that have been modified to become a high tech classroom on wheels. The buses are parked next to any slum and provide education or skills to children all day at various locations at any time.

With a huge push in computer aided learning across all our programs, our focus going forward is to incorporate ‘smart classes’ into our teaching methodology. When the world is progressing at a rate beyond our imagination, there should not be any stone left unturned to bring the benefits of computer technology to these children. We are now able to reach out to maximum amount of children in different slums at different times. As of 31st August 2017, with our 4 mobile learning classrooms including 1 Mobile Computer Lab (MCL), we are impacting over 720 street and slum children in Dehradun on an everyday basis.

The MCL has 10 computer systems and is able to hold a class of maximum 20 students at a time. The bus is also internet enabled and has power back up. Our MCL alone reaches 160 children per day, at schools and slums across Dehradun. Children not only develop the necessary IT skills but also get the opportunity to explore and read about different topics that fascinate them.  

Aasraa’s vision is to equip all of our staff and the staff in government schools in computer aided learning techniques, slowly making way for smart classrooms. So far we have conducted day long training sessions with teachers at GIC Dobhalwala, CNI Girls Inter College and multiple rounds of training with Aasraa teachers. As informed by the government school officials, there has been drastic improvement in children’s attendance after Aasraa’s initiated efforts to include computer aided learning in classrooms.  

Jun 13, 2017

A Behind the Scenes Look at Aasraa

Deepak
Deepak

All of you, our wonderful and supportive friends, have helped us create magic for the children of Aasraa! We have grown from 35 children to 1800 over the last 8 years. Mainstreaming children and watching them grow continues to be an exhilarating process, although we have encountered our fair share of bumps along the way. We are thrilled to report that we have successfully mainstreamed 240 children into regular schools this year. Watching them walk into school in their brand new school uniforms, school bags and water bottles in hand, makes our hearts overflow with joy.

 

In 2016-2017 we promised we would not grow at the cost of compromising the quality of education and care we offer our children. We are so excited by what we have been able to achieve that it seemed a waste not to share it with even more children. So we did. Better quality & more children. Such an exciting combination!

 

Our children would not have the opportunities they do had it not been for the support of our generous donors and dedicated volunteers. We can't help but reflect on the daily challenges and triumphs that are faced by our team of teachers and students that make up the Aasraa family - teachers, outreach workers, educational coordinators, fund raisers, and managers.


This quarter we would like to highlight the story of Deepak, a bright, vivacious, and energetic, adolescent, who is nonverbal and hearing impaired. Deepak currently attends a school for special needs and is making great strides, but his journey was fraught with challenges and setbacks.

 

Deepak was abandoned twice by his mother before he turned six years old! The second time he was handed to us by CWC (Child Welfare Council, a government department) after being abused at a facility where he was residing. Deepak’s quick silver intelligence was immediately apparent to all of us at Aasraa. With no formal schooling and negligible exposure to technology, this seven-year-old child lost no time in learning how to log on to the computer and was independently able to figure out how to play games on a smart phone! He also appeared highly self-willed and would revolt anytime he was asked to do something he did not want to.  The staff spent countless hours dealing with behavioural issues ranging from sulks to punching others, to knocking himself senseless by banging his head on the wall. With consistent positive redirection, structure, and unconditional love, Deepak learned to trust again and after two years, succumbed to the positivity surrounding him.


Deepak is but one child that a team of people, right from the outreach workers to board members support and encourage on a day to day basis.


Here at Aasraa we realize that our work is never complete. Our focus is a child’s journey – a journey from street to school, from servitude to empowerment, from misery to hope.
Our team works tirelessly to educate and nurture children and help them become independent and contributing members of society. It is an uphill battle, fraught with daily challenges, but the joy and satisfaction that comes from sharing in our children’s success is unparalleled. We are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child and we know that we could never do this without the support and generosity of our donors.

Deepak using sign Language
Deepak using sign Language
Animated discussion with Educational Coordinator
Animated discussion with Educational Coordinator
Debating...should I or shouldn't I??
Debating...should I or shouldn't I??
 
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