Aasraa - Teaching the Underprivileged

Aasraa - Teaching the Underprivileged


Shaila Brijnath, a former stockbroker from the UK and now the chairperson of Aasraa Trust, Dehradun, working for underprivileged children who live in the public squalors near Uttarakhand’s Bindalpul, on the banks of River Bindal.
After returning to India from the US in November 2008, Shaila came across a bunch of women who were trying to teach around 30 kids in an abandoned car parking lot and decided to join them. Shaila had just left behind a financially rewarding but ‘soul-crushing’ job as a stockbroker in New York, Paris and London. Using her abundant savings from her job in New York, and with additional support from her family, she set up Aasra – an organisation that would do exactly the work she had in mind.
Aasraa’s main goal is to educate slum, street children, rag-pickers, child labourers, and give them a life worth living. However, Shaila noted the problem, that good education cannot be provided in isolation. A child cannot be expected to study if he or she is cold, hungry, sick or scared. Today the trust nurtures and educates in over 1100 schools, 14 remedial centers, 6 mobile classrooms, 2 mobile computer labs and at 2 vocational centers.
As Aasra continued to expand, it kept giving away nutrition, vaccination and inoculation, medication, de-addiction, clothing, all of it for free, and care that they cannot experience at home. Almost 3351 children are fed by the trust every day. The trust also provides four shelter homes, a place to live for over 300 orphaned and abandoned children.
There is also an open school NIOS center for children who are past the age of joining the regular schooling programme, but nonetheless want to study. Although the organisation is based only within Dehradun, support for it has been poured from all over the world. With Spanish foundations buying huge plots of land for the trust, to photographers from all around the world, posting pictures of the school and bringing it exposure. Aasraa certainly has received plenty of love and praise from many people from all over the world.
Aasraa has changed the lives of hundreds of poor and underprivileged kids, and it has managed to do so only for its two main pillars: Khanna, a cancer survivor and a mother of two, and Brijnath, who chose to remain unmarried but now has 1800 children, and is giving them a bright future. One they wouldn’t have been able to receive otherwise.