Deputy High Commissioner of Australia Mr Bernard Philip hosts the first meeting of Friends of Asha (Delhi)A Tribute to Mr P Chidambaram, for his longstanding support for Asha CommunitiesTeam from Monash University visits Jeevan Nagar slum colonyFriends of Asha from Australia visit Kanak Durga slum colony

Deputy High Commissioner of Australia Mr Bernard Philip hosts the first meeting of Friends of Asha (Delhi)

  • Akhlaq student from Chanderpuri slum colony addressing the gathering
  • Deputy High Commissioner Bernard Philip welcoming the Friends of Asha (Delhi) group
  • Dr Kiran speaking about the Friends of Asha
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  • Mr Sam Pitroda, advisor to Prime Minister addressing the gathering
  • Ms Sonya McGuinness, CSM of International Rice Research Institute speaking
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Deputy High Commissioner of Australia, Mr Bernard Philip and Dr Kiran Martin, Founder and Director, Asha Society co-hosted an evening reception at Bernard’s residence on Thursday, 1st May 2014 at 6:30 pm. The event was organised to introduce new friends to Asha’s wonderful work and initiate a Friends of Asha group in Delhi.
The event began with Bernard welcoming the guests and he spoke about the support that Australia is extending to Asha for its various programmes. “Internationally, there are multiple Friends of Asha– in the US, Great Britain, Ireland and the most recent in Australia. But despite the incredible support in Delhi, we are yet to bring supporters together. We hope, though, that by bringing friends together we can raise efforts to support Delhi’s slum dwellers to a whole new level.” he added.
Dr Kiran gave a brief outline of Asha’s history and key achievements and spoke about the Friends of Asha in other countries and the kind of activities they perform. She was pleased to see the keen interest among the guests in becoming a part of Friends of Asha (Delhi) chapter. Mr Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister of India talked about his own journey and encouraged the students to never give up and to strive towards their goals despite all the challenges. Mr Sandeep Dhawan, Division Director, Macquarie Group, Ms Genevieve Clune, wife of Mr Bernard Philip, Mr Jim Nickel, Deputy High Commissioner of Canada and Ms Sonya McGuinness, Corporate Services Manager, International Rice Research Institute were the other speakers at the event.
Asha Student Ambassadors, Babita and Akhlaq narrated their tales of struggle, hope and success during their journey with Asha. Friends of Asha (Delhi) will be formally launched on May 7th at an event held by the Australian High Commissioner HE Mr Patrick Suckling. The launch will take place in the presence of Hon’ble Finance Minister of India, Mr P Chidambaram. Bernard himself has agreed to chair this group, and we plan to take the activities of Friends of Asha (Delhi) forward in the next few months under his leadership.

A Tribute to Mr P Chidambaram, for his longstanding support for Asha Communities

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  • Australian High Commissioner, HE Mr Patrick Suckling delivering the welcome address
  • Dr Kiran announces the launch of Friends of Asha Delhi
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  • Mr Chidambaram encouraging the students

On 7 May, the Australian High Commissioner HE Patrick Suckling kindly hosted an evening to pay tribute to India’s Finance Minister, the Hon’ble Shri P. Chidambaram and his longstanding support of Asha communities. The event was attended by many Asha supporters including representatives from major banks and companies providing internships to Asha students. Also attending the event were the Former Union Minister Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, the US Ambassador HE Nancy Powell, the Canadian High Commissioner HE Stewart Beck and the New Zealand High Commissioner HE Grahame Morton.
Asha’s Founder and Director Dr Kiran Martin thanked Mr Chidambaram for opening the door of state owned banks to slum dwellers, allowing them to open bank accounts and access loans. This unleashed a whole new era of economic opportunity for the urban poor in Delhi. “This evening pays tribute to what one man can do, how much of a difference he can make. I often think how much we could achieve if only there were more people like him and indeed, his influence and example has brought many more new supporters.” she added
She also underscored the value of Mr Chidambaram’s personal encouragement to students in Asha’s Higher Education Programme and the many private sector firms he had attracted to help students gain internships. Mr Chidambaram further encouraged students by presenting 17 bright students with awards for outstanding achievement in Class 12, at college, upon graduation and during internships.
“I am truly proud of my association with Asha. What these children need is an opportunity and Asha is providing them opportunity so that they can excel in this unequal society, these are the children who have broken through the walls that kept them virtually imprisoned. These are the children who have broken free, their children will be equal to any child anywhere in the world.” said Mr Chidambaram.
Reflecting on the amazing support provided by Friends of Asha groups in the UK, US, Ireland and Australia, Dr Kiran proudly announced the formation of the Friends of Asha Delhi, to be chaired by Mr Bernard Philip, Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner to India. The expansion of Asha’s support did not end there. Dr Kiran also announced six new organizations that will host students in the Asha Internship Programme in 2014 – the British High Commission, the International Rice Research Institute, the Lodhi Hotel, VFS Global, Gulati Imaging and Bohra’s NeuroPsychiatric Centre.

Team from Monash University visits Jeevan Nagar slum colony

  • Children_s group during an art session with the team
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A team led by Erin Lynn from Monash University, Australia visited Asha during the month of February. The 8-member team comprising postgraduate students and faculty from the university spent a week working at Asha’s slum based centre in Jeewan Nagar slum colony.
The team painted the children’s resource centre in Jeevan Nagar with vibrant murals. The children in Jeevan Nagar simply loved the new look of the centre. The team also got engaged in a lot of value based discussions with young students which was enjoyed by all.
During their week-long stint at Jeevan Nagar, the team members were able to build a healthy rapport with the women and children from the community. As the women narrated their journey with Asha, the team members were delighted to observe the changes taking place in the lives of the community as a result of Asha’s interventions. It was an immensely enriching experience for the community as well, as they got to learn about the culture, lifestyle and history of Australia.
It was the first time that Asha hosted a visit from the Monash University and would like to thank the team for taking out the time to visit the community. We look forward to many more such visits in days to come.

Friends of Asha from Australia visit Kanak Durga slum colony

  • An Asha Community Health Volunteer explains the contents of her medical supply box to the visitors
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  • The visitors pose for a group photograph with college and high school students and members of the Asha Team

On 7th March, 2014, we were privileged to welcome Professor Sue Elliot, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement), University of Melbourne; Mr Bill Burdett, Member of Board of Directors, Australian Friends of Asha; Mr Wayne Lewis, Commissioner to India, State Government of Victoria; Ms Gonul Serbest, Executive Director-Trade, Government of Victoria; Mr Howard Ronaldson, Secretary, Department of State Development-Business and Innovation and Mr Amitabh Mattu, Director, Australia India Institute to Asha.
They met with Dr Kiran and members of the Asha Team at the Asha Headquarters where they were given an orientation about the work of Asha after which they visited Kanak Durga slum colony to meet with the community. Warmly welcomed amidst loud claps and cheers, the visitors interacted with the members of Mahila Mandal (Women’s Association) and the college students over a two hour session. While the women narrated their journey towards empowerment the students excitedly shared the accounts of their experience at college.
The visitors were greatly impressed to note how the women who never stepped out of their house earlier have now become active participants in the development of the community. Whether it be water problem or sanitation issue, they know whom to approach to get the work done. They also visited a few members of the community in their homes to gain a clearer perception of the challenges they face in their day to day lives.
Asha has always shared a warm relationship with the people and government of Australia and we do look forward to more opportunities of welcoming them in the near future.