Celebrating 25 years: A Tribute to Asha

At the opening event of Asha’s week of anniversary celebrations, a diverse audience of supporters, community members, and other guests from near and far filled the Stein Auditorium of the India Habitat Centre to celebrate 25 years of Asha.

The evening’s program paid tribute to the transformation that Asha has wrought in Delhi’s slum communities over the past quarter century. Video presentations outlining the different areas of Asha’s work were interspersed with speeches by slum residents who have experienced personal upliftment as a result of Asha’s healthcare, empowerment, financial inclusion, and education initiatives.

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Above: Firdaus, president of Seelampur’s baal mandal, delivers a speech on the impact of this children’s association on her life and her community

A number of distinguished guests joined us for this event. We were honoured to welcome India’s Finance Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram as the chief guest for the evening and Hon. Alex Chernov AC QC, Governor of Victoria, Australia as our Presiding Guest. Other guests joining us for the evening included Irish Ambassador HE Feilim Mclaughlin, Japanese Ambassador HE Takeshi Yagi, New Zealand High Commissioner HE Jan Henderson, Australian High Commissioner HE Patrick Suckling, Canadian High Commissioner HE Stewart Beck, and former Director of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation Mr. D.R. Kaarthikeyan.

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Above: Hon’ble Finance Minister Shri P. Chidambaram accepts a signed token of appreciation from Dr. Martin and Rajeev, an Asha college student, for his support towards Asha’s higher education programme

In his address, the Chief Guest, Hon’ble Finance Minister reflected on how he has been particularly inspired over the years by his meetings with Asha’s college students. Despite the obstacles that they face, he observed, Asha’s students now strive for and attain the same high levels of educational achievement as their middle-class counterparts.

Habitat (5)Above: Dr. Martin embraces Savda Colony resident Rajwati, who gave thanks to Asha’s founder and director on behalf of all 400,000 of Asha’s slum residents

Hon. Alex Chernov and a community representative from one of Asha’s slums paid an emotional tribute to Dr. Martin, and some of Asha’s college students brought the main program to an energetic close with a lively and colorful dandiya raas dance performance. Everyone then proceeded outside to cut Asha’s anniversary cake and enjoy dinner on the lawns.Habitat (3)

Above: A vibrant Gujarati folk dance performed by slum children

Habitat (2)Above: Asha’s director, staff members, slum residents, and supporters prepare to cut the cake

Simultaneously festive and reflective, the event was an auspicious start to our anniversary week.

Click here to see more photographs from the event.