Canadian First Lady visits Asha
On 25th Februrary 2014, Asha had the honour and pleasure of welcoming the Canadian First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs Sharon Johnston to Dr Ambedkar slum colony. She was accompanied by Ms Brenda Beck, wife of Canadian High Commissioner HE Stewart Beck, and other members of her team. She was greeted with great warmth and enthusiasm by Dr Kiran Martin, founder and director of Asha, the slum residents and the other members of the Asha Team.
Mrs Johnston’s visit was primarily focused on meeting with the community to know more about two of Asha’s pathbreaking initiatives in the area of slum development- the Asha Healthcare Programme and the Asha Higher Education Programme. At Asha’s community based centre in the slum colony, she had a freewheeling session with the Asha’s university students and women’s group members as they exchanged stories and experiences.
Speaking in fluent English, university students from Asha communities narrated their tales of challenges, hope, dreams and victories. Usha, a Political Science graduate from Delhi University spoke about the experience of interning at the Canadian High Commission and thanked Mrs Johnston for the support the Canadian Government extended to Asha. While addressing the students, Mrs Johnston stressed on the importance of giving back to the community. “Whenever you take one step up in life, always remember to take someone with you,” she told them.
Mrs Johnston listened with great interest as Asha’s Community Health Volunteers (CHV’s) spoke about their journey towards empowerment and the early days of Asha. She also discussed health issues such as depression, which is a common mental illness in slums. Congratulating Dr Kiran and the Asha team on their achievements over the past 25 years Mrs Johnston said, “If you think about what Dr Martin is doing, would you not say that she is not just serving, but loving.”
“You have a great model [of working in partnership with the community] and we would love to take the Asha model home to our country to deal with people who are disadvantaged,” she added. Her words of encouragement greatly uplifted the spirits of the community.
Click here to watch what Mrs Johnston had to say after the visit
For more photographs and Dr Kiran’s comments, visit: drkiranmartin.wordpress.com