Desiderius Erasmus, the famous Dutch philosopher once said, The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth. Asha for Education was born out of the desire to bring hope to the lives of underprivileged children. It also represents the collective hope of volunteers working together to bring about a change in the lives of these children. Deprived of access to education in their childhood, a whole generation of Indians is growing up unprepared to face the economic and political challenges of the twenty-first century. In July 2002, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimated that around 45% of the total Indian population is illiterate. Asha believes that addressing the problem of education is pivotal in breaking the 'vicious cycle' of poverty.
Asha was founded in 1991 at the University of California, Berkeley. It has grown tremendously since then and today has nearly 75 chapters (in US, Europe, Australia, and India) and over 1,000 dedicated volunteers worldwide from various walks of life. In the past 11 years, Asha has supported more than 600 different project partners in India. Each chapter identifies, researches and raises funds for the project partners. More importantly, the chapter develops a long-term personal relationship with the project and the local community through multiple site visits and regular interaction with their activities.
Work an Hour, popularly known as WAH, is Asha's annual worldwide fundraising event to help educate underprivileged children in India. Donors are encouraged to donate one hour of their annual salary to Asha for Education; even a small contribution, say $10-$20, can support a child's education and living expenses for one whole month!
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The project partners selected this year are:
Odanadi Seva Samsthe - Based in Mysore (Karnataka), Odanadi runs a relentless campaign to expose and curb the flesh trade. The organization is a leading and powerful voice advocating the cause of women sex workers in India: They have rescued many girls, most of them minors, from the clutches of the flesh traffickers in various parts of Karnataka. As many as 350 women have been rehabilitated into society with an alternative livelihood. Their immediate goal is to build a new rehabilitation center to accommodate young girls rescued from the flesh trade.
In Pictures : Odanadi Seva Samsthe
National Association for Blind (NAB) - Based in Valsad (Gujarat), NAB aims to help visually impaired kids lead regular lives. They provide their students with education; training in Braille and computers, vocational training and medical assistance. NAB also helps students find jobs in the community. Presently, NAB is in dire need of a girls hostel.
Street to School - Tomorrow's Foundation, based in Kalighat (West Bengal), works with local street children and children of commercial sex workers. In addition to formal schooling, the Foundation seeks to provide a caring and supportive environment to these children and reintegrate them into mainstream schooling. They plan to build a Half-Way-Home as a temporary shelter for these vulnerable children. The home will provide the kids with education, cultural and vocational training, recreation and health care in a healthy environment.
In Pictures : Street to School
VOICE (Voluntary Organization In Community Enterprise) - Based in Mumbai (Maharashtra), VOICE works towards the overall development of street children. Funds generated through WAH 2003 will be used to construct a residential center for female street children. This will be a place that will provide an academically stimulating environment while giving the girls the benefits of education and vocational training.
You can also make donations through checks (made out to Asha for Education in the US/U.K. and to Asha in India) by mailing them to:
In the United States
Asha for Education,
Washington University in St.Louis
1 Brookings Drive
St.Louis MO 63130
In the United Kingdom
Asha for Education is a zero-overhead non-profit organization. All donations are tax-exempt under section 501(c)3 in the United States.
WAH 2003 is just a click away. Asha for Education has a simplified and secure online donation process for credit card payments. The WAH website