Yesterday, His Excellency Alexander Ellis, the British High Commissioner to India visited Asha’s Mayapuri Slum Community as part of the UK’s Coronation Big Help Out initiative. After King Charles III’s Coronation in London on Saturday and Coronation Concert in Windsor on Sunday, Monday was designated a special bank holiday in the UK. As well having local street parties, the public were encouraged to join in the Big Help Out, a national initiative to raise awareness of volunteering and inspire people to help make a difference in their communities in honour of the King’s decades of public service.
The High Commissioner visited the Asha Community Centre in the slum, where he met women and college students whose lives are being transformed by the empowering work of Asha’s healthcare and education programmes. One of those students was Sunny, who grew up in a small one-room shanty by the railway line and has known great suffering and challenge in his life. Asha spotted his potential and supported him in his studies, enabling him to get into Delhi University where he recently graduated with a BA in Political Science. The High Commissioner has been giving his precious time to Sunny, helping him with his English studies, as a result of which he has just passed his IELTS exams and will be travelling to Sydney Australia to study for a Masters. It was a special occasion for Sunny to welcome the High Commissioner to his home community and as a mark of his gratitude and respect for his inspirational mentor, he presented him with a shawl and washed his feet, a practice promoted at Asha to honour others, regardless of their status, background, caste or religion.
The High Commissioner went on to participate in Asha’s Love & Lunch programme, where disadvantaged or abandoned elderly men and women are given a nutritious meal and emotional support. He walked around the lanes in the slum to get a better understanding of the challenges faced by families living there, and to meet and greet the local residents.
What a fantastic example of service and volunteering absolutely in keeping with the Big Help Out.