Hope in the depths of poverty
Meaning ‘hope’ in Hindi, Asha has been helping the slum dwellers of Delhi since 1988, when Dr Kiran Martin started treating cholera victims who were too poor or culturally constrained to seek help elsewhere.
Now over 700,000 residents in 95 slum colonies have access to essential medical care and treatment with Asha, as well as a wide range of other support and benefits to help improve peoples’ lives and bring them ‘hope’.
The Pandemic in the slums
The many years’ experience of hard work in the slums has been put to the test in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Asha has harnessed the goodwill of the many people who have benefited from their support, and over 400 volunteer ‘Asha Warriors’ have been putting their own lives at risk, to help their neighbours.
They have been providing food, medicines, care, comfort, hygiene advice and support to the poor slum residents who would otherwise be left to fend for themselves. This proactive response has saved many lives and provided succour to countless others.
Healthcare for all
Asha clinics with doctors, nurses and volunteers ensure that everyone in their slums has access to medical care.
This has made a huge difference to the incidence and effect of the wide range of diseases and conditions that exist in the slums, including pregnancy and childbirth, infant mortality and malnutrition.
For example, antenatal and postnatal care along with proper childbirth protocols has reduced the Neonatal Mortality Rate to 11/1000, down from 23/1000 for India as a whole. The combination of education, inoculation, identification and treatment has saved many lives and given people hope and opportunities they would never otherwise have had.
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Breaking the cycle of poverty
The slum dwellers’ extreme poverty locks them into a cycle from which it is difficult to escape. Asha has helped them through a number of initiatives which have helped them break this cycle.
Healthcare is essential as India is experiencing diseases found in both developing and developed nations. In addition to the communicable (Covid-19, malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS) and non-communicable diseases of poverty, it is fast matching rates found in developed nations of conditions which are the result of sedentary lifestyles, poor diets, and obesity. Barriers to treatment include drug shortages, distance from governmental facilities , and loss of wages while waiting for care.
Education has been key, both in the early years and through to university level. Asha has provided educational facilities, resources, encouragement and sometimes even financial support to all who need it. Emotional reassurance is important to parents, pupils and students alike – it’s not easy to break out of the poverty and cultural constraints.
Empowerment of the people in the slums has seen them form local neighbourhood groups, under the encouragement, support and guidance of Asha. These groups, often of women, have campaigned, pressurised, supported and strived to protect and improve the environment, sanitation, rights and facilities of the slums for the benefit of all the residents.
Financial Inclusion schemes have been arranged and supervised, providing would-be entrepreneurs with the ability to raise capital – even if it’s only to buy a sowing machine. This means that slum dwellers who have no collateral can start earning money through their own initiative.
Environment issues make ordinary life very difficult for slum dwellers. Asha focuses on training community members and enabling them to achieve change. With knowledge, men and women gain the confidence to approach government officials, police and head teachers to improve their environment and opportunities for education, and can even influence the attitudes of entire slum communities.
Asha means Hope
Our short video tells the story of Asha and how it has brought hope to so many, in the face of countless obstacles and difficulties. Without Asha, many of the slum dwellers of Delhi would be living without hope. With Asha, lives and communities have been transformed into places with hope.
Asha depends on you
Without your support, Asha would not be able to do most of the things you’ll find highlighted in this website. We have no income save what you donate to us, and without Asha the lives of so many slum dwellers would be without hope. Please support us.
Donate a gift
You can donate a gift here, or even better, set up a regular payment through your bank, which allows us to plan more confidently.
Leave a legacy
You can leave a legacy in your Will, so that when you pass away you’ll know that your money is providing hope for the future to those people least able to help themselves.
Fundraise for Asha
You can fundraise for Asha, by undertaking fun activities that attracts support from sponsors.
Advocate for Asha
You can advocate for Asha: talk to your school, community group, colleagues or friendship groups, and encourage them to raise money or support us in other ways.
Volunteer for Asha
Whether you’re on your own or in a school or community group, we need all the help you can offer. You don’t have to be skilled in anything, just have a loving heart.
How can you help?
Asha is now transforming the lives of more than 700,000 slum dwellers in over 95 slum colonies of Delhi. Support us in our cause, and make it your cause too!
Messages from all over the world on Asha completing 35 years
Dear Kiran, What an inspiration you are as you continue passionately working for the poor!The first time I met you was in 2008 when you visited Rainey Endowed, the very first students from the slum communities you had just gained university admission. You were brimful of joy, a pleasure to witness, and your impact on our students.I’m sure every year has brought challenges and none more so than the last few, but you, Freddy and your Asha teams are tireless in overcoming challenge after challenge. I have loved being part of the Asha family. Pearl Donnelly-Rainey Endowed, Northern Ireland
Kiran to you and your team, what great achievements! I feel privileged to have shared some of this time with you all; here’s to many new years of friendship, support and Love.David Finch, chair of Friends of Asha, Great Britain
What we do
Our programmes help slum residents gain access to healthcare, financial services and education, and make it possible for them to make long-term, positive changes to their lives.
Find out what we do
Whether you use your voice or your lifestyle choices, or give your time, money, or your energy to Asha, you can choose your own personal way to contribute towards transforming lives in the slums of Delhi.
Get involved with Asha India
About the founder
Dr Kiran Martin is an influential figure in the field of slum development and Asha’s programmes are benefiting more than 700,000 people in around 95 slum colonies of Delhi.
Read more about Dr. Kiran Martin