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Case studies

Testimonials from Partner Schools

Caption: Dave Briggs with a group from the Discovery Schools Trust
Dave Briggs with a group from the Discovery Schools Trust

For a number of years now, Discovery Schools Trust has been working in partnership with Asha. Every year we have organised a self funded trip to New Delhi during October half term for any staff member working in the Trust. In recent years we have had a group of up to 20 Discovery staff members visit New Delhi. The group has always been varied, welcoming individuals with a range of experiences and interests, teachers, advisory board members, support staff and members of the central team. In recent years we have also started to take high school aged children out with us.

The week long trip provides the participates the opportunity to fully immerse themselves with the work of Asha. Along with exploring the city of Delhi and surrounding areas much of our time is spent with the children living in the slums of New Delhi. During our time at the Asha centres we plan and carry out a range of activities, all designed to inspire, motivate and immerse the children in conversation. It is truly the most rewarding experience, we are welcomed with open arms and within the space of one week friendships that will last a lifetime are forged. Many of the children attending the Asha centres use these places as their haven, a place to learn, meet with friends, access technology and most importantly learn about the power of education.

‘High quality pre-school and primary education help build a stronger start in life. Early childhood education lays a foundation for lifelong learning.’ Dr Kiran Martin – Founder of Asha

As a Trust we continue year on year to support the work of Asha, although Covid has prevented us from organising a visit over these last two years, we have continued to focus our Curriculum work in each school on the topic of Asha. We now have Asha Ambassadors who meet monthly from across the Trust and on a regular basis they meet virtually by Zoom with the children of New Delhi at the Asha centres.

How wonderful it has been to see our children communicating with children from across the world, comparing the similarities and differences between their lives. The group even made it onto the local BBC radio!

Professor Joanne Hughes School of Education, Queens University Belfast
Professor Joanne Hughes
School of Education, Queens University Belfast

Dr Martin was invited by the School of Education at Queen’s University, Belfast to give a lecture on the topic “The Injustice of the Poor in Our Society”. In her talk Dr Martin spoke eloquently of the sustainable transformation that is taking place in the slums of Delhi – in the last 25 years more than 400,000 urban poor have benefited from the work of Asha. In the field of education the problems for slum dwellers are stark: Most slum children go to schools where teaching standards are low and classrooms are seriously under-equipped; subjects like English and computing skills that could lead to good jobs are barely taught; parental pressure to leave school and start work increases as children grow up, and the vast majority of young people leave school by the age of 16; there is a cultural resistance to education based on a belief that slum dwellers should not aspire to an education that is the privilege of the middle classes –for most, the prospect of a university education is an expensive pipedream. Asha is making a difference by resourcing schools and removing financial barriers to families, and by restoring a sense of human dignity and self-belief. Countless slum dwellers are now completing school and gaining entry to University and well paid jobs. The Asha approach is inspirational and is internationally regarded as best practice in breaking the cycle of deprivation.

I am delighted to support the new Asha Programme for Schools in Ireland as a model for connecting our young people with their peers in India. I believe the Programme will promote understanding and a commitment to social justice that will be life enhancing in every sense for all participants. In our more global and technological world, I am also confident that the relationships established now can be sustained into the future and that new partnerships will flourish.

Deborah O’Hare Principal, The Wallace High School, Lisburn
Deborah O’Hare
Principal, The Wallace High School, Lisburn

Wallace High School, through its ethos and the legacy of our founder, Sir Richard Wallace, has a rich legacy of philanthropy and generosity of spirit. These qualities of concern for others were evident in the inspiring address made by Dr Kiran Martin when she visited our school and spoke in Assembly in 2013. To see actual and real improvement in the healthcare of children in the slums and the drive for education through the Asha organisation, under Dr Kiran Martin’s selfless leadership, was a defining moment for our school and for me personally.

Inspired by the work of Asha, Wallace was fortunate to have three members of staff, Moyra Richardson, our team leader, Victoria Walsh and Liam Halferty, willing to organise and lead a team of senior students. It was a great privilege for me as the School’s Principal to join the team and see first hand the work of Asha in our time spent in New Delhi working in the sprawling, industrial slum of Mayapuri. Asha means Hope, our founder Sir Richard Wallace, famed for the provision of clean drinking water for the poor in his water fountains in Europe, Canada, Asia and South America, lived up to his own family’s coat of arms which read ” Esperance ” meaning hope. To see first hand the excellent work of the Asha organisation in October 2014 was life changing for our senior students and the staff and defined Hope in the modern world. Through the work of the dedicated and value driven staff of Asha, we saw the words of Nelson Mandela in action ” Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” It is our great privilege to support the work of Asha and to have seen first hand the immense value they add to the lives of children in the slums through the empowerment of mothers.

John Healy Vice principal, Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt
John Healy
Vice principal, Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt

“As a school that was founded as a result of a charitable donation by Hugh Rainey in 1708, we wanted the heart of our Tercentenary celebrations to be based on the spirit of giving. The alliance with Asha in 2008 gave us the perfect opportunity to do this. Having taken three teams to Kusumpur slum colony in New Delhi over the past six years, we have met the first students who gained entry to university in 2008 and followed their inspirational progress. We have listened to their moving tributes to Asha for helping them achieve what had once seemed an impossible dream. We have witnessed their job prospects being enhanced through graduate mentorship programmes set up by Asha. Hugh Rainey’s vision of giving hope to the poor of Mid-Ulster through access to education was fully realised, therefore in the same way, the hope that Asha’s Higher Education Programme is extending to the young people in Delhi’s slum colonies will result in the same liberation from poverty and gradual transformation of lives. Rainey is proud to be playing a small part in this and we would unreservedly encourage other schools to become involved: the benefits to all are beyond question.”

Scott Naismith  Principal, Methodist College Belfast
Scott Naismith
Principal, Methodist College Belfast

“Since the year 2000 Methodist College has been associated with Asha in New Delhi and has linked with Kalkaji Colony, one of Asha’s 60 plus slums in the city. Our India Society is active in maintaining these links with Kalkaji and the relationship has been preserved, indeed strengthened, through our sending out groups of students and teachers on an eighteen months cycle to help with the on-going project.

The new Higher Education Programme, promoted by Asha, is something that resonates strongly with us. We recognise its importance as a means of empowering slum children with the tools to break the generational cycle of poverty and I believe this Asha model is one that could very beneficially be rolled out to many more slum colony neighbourhoods.The opportunity to support the admirable work of Asha also benefits our own school community, enriching the educational, social and spiritual development of our pupils through their engagement with Asha’s innovative developmental work in Delhi.”

Paul Crute  Principal, The Royal School, Armagh
Paul Crute
Principal, The Royal School, Armagh

“I believe that Asha is a project with a win – win situation for both givers and receivers. The dedication of the ASHA workers in Ireland is truly commendable and I have watched our students develop and grow over the last year of fundraising and preparing themselves for the Asha New Delhi adventure. I have no doubt the whole experience will be transformational for all involved and would recommend, wholeheartedly and without reservation, Asha to others.”

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Asha’s Mission is to work with the urban poor to bring about long-term and sustainable transformation to their quality of life.

Children in the slums of India