Interview with Abhilash ( General Awareness & Fundraising Coordinator, Asha Hyderabad )


Hi abhilash. Let's start with abhilash the person.

Tell us a little about what life was like for you
before you decided to take the plunge and join an NGO.

Well, I was more like any average engineering college student loitering around the city with a bunch of friends aimlessly, without knowing the avenues that are just a thought away which would be a platform for me to work for the welfare of others, my very fellow humans. Little did I realize in Last January (Jan 2004) that I would be actively involved with two NGOs simultaneously.
It was in January last that I happened to go along with my brother (a volunteer of Asha Central New Jersey chapter in USA) who wanted to attend a meeting of Asha Hyd.since then I have been actively involved in Asha activities and for the past one month I have started to involve myself (regularly) with Engineers Without Borders – India.

Tell us something about your other interests.

I enjoy exercising and I am a Basketball enthusiast. I played for my college team by the way. Nowadays my interests are just limited to Asha (www.ashanet.org/hyderabad) and Engineers Without Borders – India (www.ewb-india.org).
I love to make friends and live up to the spirit of it to the best of my attitude as it is one relationship I really believe in.

How long have you been associated with AshaforEducation and what projects have been involved in?

I have been associated with Asha for the past one year (to be precise, it is from Jan 23, 2004). I have been involved with two (Vivekananda Educational Centre, Banjara Hills, Yellammabanda School, Kukatpally) of the four projects that Asha Hyderabad is supporting.

How did the concept of this NGO originate? Have you got any regular sponsors/industry involvement?

The concept of Asha was started by three Indian students of University of California, Berkeley in 1991. One of whom is Mr. Sandeep Pandey, year 2002 Ramon Magasasay Award Winner. The best part of Asha, I feel is that it has ZERO overheads i.e., every single rupee of the donor is spent entirely on the cause specified and that all the administration expenses are either borne by the volunteers themselves or funds are raised exclusively for administration expenses.

So how do you think working here has changed you? You must have faced several hurdles on the way. Tell us about them.

My association with Asha has brought a significant change in my perception of life. I strongly feel that every individual (especially in India) should work for about two to three hours a week for the welfare/upbringing of the underprivileged society and not just live for themselves.
Community service should essentially become a fundamental duty of every citizen of our country – that's what springs to my mind when I hear our very old politicians talking about rights and reservations.
As a student I faced a few challenges in contributing myself to Asha but they are more personal than applicable to the “general”.

What would you suggest to people (professionals,students) who want to do some community
work over the weekends ? (in general and with respect to your foundation.)

I would request professional students to approach a few NGOs and just be with them for a few weeks and see if they like the way those organizations work and their principles as such. It would be nice if students can spend a few hours a week in helping these organizations over various issues.
Students seem to fit in very well to the tasks that remain (most often) incomplete due to the time limitations that working professionals have. In fact, most of the innovative concepts just remain as mere concepts than act as models for implementation due to lack of volunteering hours.
With respect to Asha, volunteers have a wide range of activities to choose from. For example, one can work on the concepts that are up for action or help in fund-raising, website management, general awareness, monitoring of projects, conducting site visits to potential projects and much more.

How do you think our involvement will help enrich us?

The moment people enter the field of community service, they realize just how much they have NOT done towards the betterment of fellow humans for all these days. And of course you are shown all possible routes to compensate for all the efforts that you haven’t put in for others till then.
At the end of the day, you are rewarded with a feeling of having done some community service which is of course needless to say, “priceless”.

Finally, do tell us some success stories, memorable incidents in the line of your work.

To my understanding, every project in Asha is a success story in itself.
And the most memorable moment of my life is just not limited to one, as I relish every moment I spend for Asha and EWB – India. (the above two statements do sound filmy but I mean it).

What are the present/future projects that your organisation is working on and how can each of us

The four projects that Asha Hyderabad is supporting are:

Vivekananda Public School, Hyderabad - This is the name which 150 children from the slums would proudly mention in English if asked, ‘which school they are studying in’. Started in 1982, VPS caters to migrant slum dweller’s children who cannot follow the local language Telugu, used as the medium of instruction in government schools. The school offers education upto 10th in English medium along with vocational training courses. Focusing on the child’s future the school members are also involved in door-step counseling of parents, guidance on further studies & employment opportunities, conducting awareness camps on health, eradication of child labour etc.

URL: http://www.ashanet.org/hyderabad/project.html

Khushi – or ‘happiness’ is what is being brought into the lives of children in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh by a dedicated husband and wife team. They run pre-primary (balwadi) schools for small children and night schools for working kids and adults; catering mainly to small farmers and agricultural labourers in the area. Khushi focuses on non-formal education as a step towards integration into formal schools. They also generate employment opportunities by hiring local youth and training them as teachers.

URL: http://www.ashanet.org/hyderabad/project.html

Needy Illiterate Children Education(NICE) - The NICE school is a residential school mainly for the needy (orphans,
single parent, and poor) children.The school aims to educate school dropouts from backward rural areas in vocational areas and
help them turn entrepreneurs to serve within their own communities. Established in the year 2002, it has been imparting education since then by enrolling 25 students for the first academic year.

URL: http://www.ashanet.org/hyderabad/project.html
URL: www.nice-india.org

Yellammabanda School, Kukatpally - Ramakrishna Educational and Medical Society of Hyderabad, Kukatpally is trying to help poor childrens' education and health of downtrodden people near Kukatpally slum areas. Asha Hyderabad is raising funds locally for providing the much needed basic nutrition for the school's students.

URL: http://www.ashanet.org/hyderabad/project.html

We suggest all individuals, who are interested in joining us in our effort to provide basic education to underprivileged Indian children, to attend a meeting of Asha Hyderabad and try and identify the activities which best suit your work schedule.

(visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/asha-hyd/ for details
reach him at: abhi13[at]gmail.com )

Thanks for giving me an opportunity to express myself. I hope my inputs in this regard would encourage at least a few.

Wish you all the best for your endeavour. Thanks a lot for inspiring us with your words.


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