Home' Auckland City Harbour News : October 26th 2011 Contents www.aucklandcityharbournews.co.nz
12 AUCKLAND CITY HARBOUR NEWS, OCTOBER 26, 2011
For $6.30, enough for a coffee
and a daily newspaper, Asha can:
Provide a community health
volunteer with medical supplies
for a week
Give three children vitamin A
supplements to prevent
Provide a child with full medical
care for one month
Or vaccinate a child against
diptheria, tetanus and pertussis.
Street scene: A community health volunteer, second from left, talks to a man in
the Zakhira slum colony who is recovering from tuberculosis. The slum resident
makes a living by dividing up the two plastic straps that are attached to jandals.
Photos: RHIANNON HORRELL
Sheer curiosity: A group of children involved in the Asha programme -- a
community development organisation -- which works in the Zakhira slum colony
in west Delhi.
Half a world away from Auckland, children in the slums of west Delhi are learning
the importance of basic hygiene while community health volunteers are receiving
medical training. Inroads are being made with education too. Auckland City Harbour
News chief reporter Rhiannon Horrell travelled to India last month to find out more
about what Kiwi donations can achieve.
Making a difference in Delhi
Go to www.aucklandcity
harbournews.co.nz and click on
Latest Edition to see a video of the
first graduate from the Asha slums
who will study outside Delhi.
In a community where health
problems are commonplace, the
average household income is $43 to
$87 a month and nearly 80 percent
of children are malnourished, Asha
is a beacon of hope.
The Auckland-based charity Tear
Fund helps to finance Asha s work.
This is despite funding cuts from a
New Zealand government aid pro-
gramme because of a stronger focus
on the Pacific.
Asha works in 50 slum areas that
are home to 400,000 people around
Delhi and the Zakhira slum colony
in the Mayapuri area is one of
The Zakhira slum is perched on a
thin strip of land between two pet-
rol stations and a railway track.
Basic healthcare is a luxury here.
A small building near the
entrance serves as a drop-in facility
and education clinic and this is
where Asha works from.
Saddam Ansari, a 16-year-old boy
with bright eyes, is eager to learn
and he sits up straight when an
Asha staff member calls on him to
explain some details about his life.
I ve learnt a lot about personal
hygiene, he says proudly. We
never used to take baths or clean
our faces. So now we keep clean.
This is a change I ve felt in my life.
I never went to school up to the age
of 10 years. The Asha staff came
and met us, they met our parents
and then after a while I started
going to school.
Asha also runs women s groups
and although there is now a group
of 50 to 60 ladies, when the organ-
isation first came to the Zakhira col-
ony there was resistance to the new
There was fear in our heart.
Some of the ladies thought: Why
should we go? Let s stay at home ,
one woman says.
There s been sanitation prob-
lems, economic problems and food
rationing. For a long time there
were problems with the toilet block.
People used to go to the toilet on the
railway tracks. But we have a good
relationship with a local councillor
and we were able to approach him
Incomes are extremely low and
one family in the Zakhira slum has
taken out a loan of 5000 rupees
($125) so that a mother can sell
vegetables from a crude table inside
her family s hut.
Another family is tasked with
dividing up the two plastic straps
that attach to jandals -- and for
every 7500 pieces they cut, they get
30 rupees -- about 75c.
Asha founder and visionary Dr
Kiran Martin says the organisation
connects with around 10 percent of
the slum population in Delhi.
The official figure released
through the census in 2011 is a total
of 3.9 million slum dwellers but the
real number is always higher than
She says the organisation has
been running for 24 years and being
able to help a small portion is
Ms Martin, a paediatrician,
started Asha on her own in 1988.
At that time slum-dwellers had
no access to good quality health-
care. We didn t have a proper build-
ing to function out of either.
She encountered the United
Kingdom branch of Tear Fund and
says the government of Delhi
eventually started to help with
resources and infrastructure.
Around 80 people now work at
Asha and it focuses on five main
areas -- education, healthcare,
financial inclusion, women s
empowerment and environmental
Tear Fund public private
programmes adviser Richard Bar-
ter, who is also the Puketapapa
Local Board chairman, speaks
highly of Ms Martin.
She s the visionary, the pioneer
of the organisation. Asha advocates
to improve amenities in the slums
and helps when areas need to be
relocated. There are times when
they have to move whole communi-
ties to another area.
There s also fundamental issues
of children s rights.
He says children are sent out to
work even though they should be
It might sound horrible from our
perspective but the reality is the
family need an income.
It s not perfect but it s not a per-
fect world, Mr Barter says.
He says parents often cannot read
People have to pay someone else
to fill in government forms. If you
can read and write then you re
much safer from exploitation.
However, Asha stands to receive
less funding assistance than before
because of a change to New Zealand
Mr Barter says Tear Fund often
helps with annual projects and
grants of $100,000 or $200,000 at a
Quite often we ve added New
Zealand government funding to
that. But the Asha project no longer
qualifies for New Zealand govern-
New Zealand High Comissioner
to India Jan Henderson says New
Zealand s bilateral aid tends to be
focused on the Pacific.
As part of the philosophy of our
aid programme, the government in
particular is very keen to ensure
that New Zealand is able to contrib-
ute to those nations that are closest.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray
McCully has been saying in the
Pacific Forum that things in the
Pacific don t look very good.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Trade spokesman Adham Crichton
says the New Zealand Aid pro-
gramme contributed $102,617 to
Tear Fund over the 2008/09 and
2009/10 financial years to support
Asha in India.
This funding was made available
under the old Koha scheme which
allocated funding to New Zealand-
based non-government organis-
ations carrying out development
In 2010 the Koha funding
scheme for non-government organ-
isations was replaced with the
Sustainable Development Fund.
Since the fund was established
more than $56 million has been
committed to New Zealand NGOs
Mr Crichton says the fund places
a greater emphasis on work in the
Pacific and South East Asia.
Tear Fund has not applied to the
Sustainable Development Fund for
funding to support Asha s work in
India since the fund was estab-
lished in 2010.
Despite the funding changes,
there is no doubt Asha has created
a name for itself and Ms Henderson
says some of the feats the organis-
ation has achieved is incredible.
One of the kids is now at engin-
eering university. For a kid out of a
slum, that is just amazing.
I met a number of the kids in a
graduating class and they were
articulate, they were confident,
there were lots of girls and I was
amazed that in those living con-
ditions -- because it is an informal
community -- that they ve really
established a sense of community.
These kids have made such a suc-
cess of their lives -- it s great.
I ve asked the kids if they ll bring
friends home and they say no, they
don t even divulge that they re from
a slum. I think that reinforced for
me just how extraordinary this
Visit www.asha-india.org for
details on how to donate.
-- Rhiannon Horrell travelled to
India with the help of the Asia New
HELPING OUT IN DELHI'S SLUMS
New Delhi resident: New Zealand
High Commissioner to India Jan
Henderson says Asha's work is
leading edge and a lot can be
learned from it. Asha is a community
development organisation that is
working in the slums of India.
The New Zealand High
Commission in New Delhi has
made these contributions to
In 2011 a contribution of
$13,212.50 purchased 14
computers and other equipment
like printers, cables, chairs and
tables to strengthen the
computer literacy programme in
seven slum communities
In 2010 a contribution of
$12,900 provided scholarships
for 60 students from different
slums to enhance their capacity
to achieve good academic results
in order to gain admission in
In 2009 a contribution of
$10,090 provided eight
computers and computer
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