Geetanjali’s journey with Asha

Asha was pleased to welcome Geetanjali Jhurani from Dubai, UAE. Geetanjali had volunteered for eight days at Asha and conducted a workshop on overcoming gender stereotypes with women and young people. Here is a reflection by Geetanjali on her journey with Asha.

“Nestled away in the hub and heart of our own country’s Indian capital New Delhi, there are the modest and frugal slum settlements of Zakhira and Chanderpuri, housing about 1,100 and 3,500 families, respectively. These, just like 91 other slums, have been provided care and facilities (to 700,000 slum dwellers) by ASHA, a non -government organization.

Asha is a lifeline that provides “Hope” to so many little children young adults, women, and families. My break from a corporate job led me to finally take action on something that I’ve always wanted to do. They say to “give back” for all that we have received in our lives will give us peace and happiness. My association with Dr. Kiran early this year also motivated me to immerse myself into ASHA and their activities and I set out to give back and express gratitude to God for all that my family and I have been blessed with.

After a welcome that equates meeting a best friend after ages, I settled in through a 2-day Induction of the ASHA Centre, their modest beginnings to what they have achieved. It was then suggested that due to my experience of 25 years in Transformation -Strategy and Operations which included People Transformation, I could possibly run a few workshops with an audience of my choice.

I picked young adults as they are beacons of our future, and women – for enlightening them I believe lends enlightenment to the entire family.

After the orientation sessions with each of these groups and a visit to the homes of some of the residents of these two slum communities I was attached with, came the session workshops.

Neel Batte Sannata, a 2016 Hindi movie directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, starring Swara Bhaskar, Ratna Pathak Shah, Pankaj Tripathi and Ria Shukla about the perils of a community slum dweller mother whose only goal is to provide education for a bright future to her girl child, and the idea of playing relevant clips of this movie to convey a critical message of educating the girl child, struck home as a suitable backdrop.

The Mahila Mandal or women’s session was built around this setting. From this also emerged discussion on “saying Yes to and saying No to”…. saying YES to Education and saying NO to Domestic Violence, Child Marriage, and Dowry. Sessions that had an attendance of 10 women on Day 1 went up to 40 women by the last session… thanks to the untiring work of the Community Volunteer teams.

The energy high, the joy immense and the chats passionate!! They watched with rapt attention as they saw for the 1st time, a laptop attached to a modest speaker relaying a message so important. They listened even more intently…and learned. I know that because the main movie tag line of “Jab Jago Tabhi Savera” (It is a new morning whenever one awakes from their slumber) was imbibed in a way that plans to create posters and banners across the Asha communities of this key message were made. Initiatives of young adults having tutoring classes for their mothers at appointed times in the Centre and women becoming inspired to take up their course of interest generated a wave of

transformation. The “Angootha Chaap” to signature (from thumb impression to a pen signature) drive of young adults supporting their mothers to learn how to sign or use the online booking forms made me witness sparkling eyes of caring delight and thrill, that tugged at my heart in the most unforgettable way!

Young adults charged, we went on to role play activities including exciting ramp walk sessions with blaring music and a huge audience (the word had spread!!) to deliver the message of breaking Gender stereotypes! We had discussions and debrief chats…and I was left in amazement at the intellectual capacity and creative talent that is camouflaged and hidden away in these dwellings…which never always emerges or comes forth for the world to benefit from… simply because these teenagers, due to their circumstances, do not get an opportunity! Not until they came into the ASHA ethos which opens up to them the world of Mentoring, Internships and Job placements, alongside higher education in Universities within the country and overseas.

The unique and refreshing Asha experience made 8 days go by in a flash and it was soon time to head home! But not before I could sink myself into the arms and hugs of people in Zakira and Chanderpuri, my now extended family in Asha and their teams, alongside outstanding other people, some of who have also become direct mentees of Dr. Kiran.

When I checked in my luggage at the airport and sat on the plane, the only thing precious I held were the compelling memories and experiences of the week! With moist eyes, I smiled and thanked God. I came to “give back” but instead I was going back with all that the people, in and through ASHA, had to give.

Their pure and unconditional affection and delight churned my stomach in a way that one touches and feels their newborn for the 1st time. It is a new relationship bound by the invisible threads of sheer love, joy, and boundless gratitude… impressions that will last me a lifetime!”

Dr. Kiran in her thank you note said,

“It was a pure joy having Geetanjali at Asha. She gave of herself beautifully to the people of some of the poorest communities in the world. She won their hearts in just a few days she was here. The Asha family will always remember her with love and is grateful for her presence in their lives.”

Here are a few glimpses:

Geetanjali with Asha students and staff at Asha's Chanderpuri slum Community
Geetanjali with Asha students and staff at Asha’s Chanderpuri Slum Community

 

Geetanjali with Asha's Bal Mandal (Children Group) at Chanderpuri Slum Community
Geetanjali with Asha’s Bal Mandal (Children Group) at Chanderpuri Slum Community

 

Geetanjali during the slum visit at Asha's Zakhira Slum Community
Geetanjali during the slum visit at Asha’s Zakhira Slum Community

 

Geetanjali interacting with Asha students
Geetanjali interacting with Asha students

 

Geetanjali with Asha students and staff at Asha's Zakhira Slum Community
Geetanjali with Asha students and staff at Asha’s Zakhira Slum Community

To volunteer, please write to us at info@asha-india.org.