Over the past four weeks, Old Boy Vaughan Marega (2017) travelled to many parts of India with friends from Trinity College at the University of Melbourne. He recounts his experience.

It has been an amazing journey of discovery with perhaps the most amazing part being the time spent volunteering. We dedicated two weeks of our travels to volunteer for Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) at one of their centres located in Seelampur, a 1-hour train ride outside Delhi. ASHA is a non-for-profit organisation that operates in 91 slums in Delhi. The organisation performs three vital services for young families in the slums of Delhi and provides healthcare, education, and women’s empowerment and awareness.  They receive all of their funding from supporters in Australia, England, Ireland and Wales. Having previously read that many charities and non-government organisations in India are tied closely and sometimes corruptly to governing bodies through dodgy deals in order to remain operational, I was at first sceptical about ASHA and its success in Delhi. Reassuringly, I discovered that ASHA acts independently from the local government.

Throughout our time volunteering, we organised lessons for students ranging in age from 5 to 21 to further their understanding of English for their respective year levels. The smiles on the children’s faces as well as their powerful stories during these classes will stay with me forever. My time with ASHA has been one of my most precious and memorable life experiences to date. Meeting Dr. Kiran the founder of ASHA, reassured me of the organisation’s sincere dedication to improving the welfare of slum residents for generations to come. The support provided by ASHA to the poor in India simply cannot be over-estimated. It is both vital to these people … as it is beautiful to witness. I wish ASHA many years of success ahead.

For further information or to support ASHA click the link: https://asha-india.org/about-us/

To hear more of my story with ASHA and how you can support this incredible organisation please email me: vmarega@student.unimelb.edu.au