- The ASHA Foundation
The ASHA Foundation is a
charitywhich encourages and supports philanthropy worldwide and works for interfaith and intercultural understanding. It was established in 1996by the humanitarian and author, Zerbanoo Gifford. The ASHA Centre, where most of the Foundation’s projects are based, is located in the Royal Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. ASHA comes from the Sanskrit root meaning “eternal law,” “the inherent nature of existence.” In Avestan Persian the word ASHA means “the righteous way” and “divine justice.” In many languages it also means “hope.”
The ASHA Foundation’s mission is threefold:
• To bridge nationalities, religions and cultures • To encourage and honour the contribution of all communities • To harness support for charitable projects internationally
The mission of the ASHA Centre is to promote peaceful co-operation between people of different religions and cultures. The Centre specifically seeks to work with young people, fostering community participation through a holistic programme of performing and visual arts, conservation projects and personal transformation. In an example of its pioneering work, groups of Arab and Jewish Israeli young people spend a month at the Centre and having overcome their initial hostility, work together to create a play which they then take home and perform in Israel, uniting audiences from their deeply divided communities. The experiment has now been expanded to include young people from South Africa, India, Britain and other divided communities worldwide.
The ASHA Foundation acquired ASHA House in Coventry, the city of peace and reconciliation, for the charity Minorities of Europe. This partnership works towards co-operation, solidarity and exchange between different minority communities. Young people throughout Europe are able to use ASHA House when they attend training programmes on inter-cultural understanding and peace and need a welcoming home to live in.
Inspirational Women is a project that embodies the vision of the ASHA Foundation and began with the latest book by the ASHA founder,
Zerbanoo Gifford, “Confessions to a Serial Womaniser- Secrets of the World’s Inspirational Women”. The book highlights the achievements of three hundred women from sixty countries, all of whom Zerbanoo interviewed. The outstanding women have succeeded in all walks of life, including business, government, the arts, science, academia and religion. However, they all have one thing in common: they are part of a collective, noble endeavour to create a better world. The internet project comprises a website and international mentoring scheme. The website contains biographies and photographs of the “Inspirational Women” in the book, and Zerbanoo plans to expand the listing. Many of the women in the book are involved in the web project, acting as mentors, and as everything is done on-line, distance is no object. Zerbanoo has already successfully matched up young women from all over the world with their chosen mentors. She’s now developing the mentoring project into a multi-media resource for schools and universities.
The projects that ASHA is involved in reflect its ethos of assisting people and organisations, regardless of their religious or cultural affiliations. ASHA also believes in supporting micro-organisations and individuals in the good work that they do.
ASHA’s international humanitarian projects are long-term partnerships, with the aim of enabling people to improve their own lives and the lives of their communities.
MAKE POVERTY HISTORY
ASHA is amongst the coalition of NGOs, trade unions, faith groups, campaigning organisations, student groups and celebrities who have come together to demand that rich countries increase aid and make it work better for poor people, cancel punitive debts, and change the rules of world trade so that they take account of the interests of the poor.
ASHA donated funds to Oxfam during their Tsunami appeal.
The Chagossians were exiled from their homeland, and island in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia, by the UK government in the 1960s. Whilst they fought their High Court case against the UK government, ASHA paid for the living costs of the Chagossians in London. ASHA nominated the Chagossian women’s campaigner, Lisette Talate, for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize as one of the thousand women nominated collectively for their efforts in pursuit of peace. ASHA was notified that Mrs Talate had been selected as one of the one thousand women and sponsored her to attend a Nobel Prize training event in South Africa in June 2005.
ASHA has made a generous donation to help the Gujjar community. The funds contributed to work on resolving the rapidly increasing problem of human-elephant conflict, caused by expanding urbanisation.
Projects with Children
ASHA’s projects with children aim to eradicate child poverty and homelessness and fight against child labour to give children a better start in life.
Sneh Sadan is a local NGO in Mumbai, India, that houses street children temporarily until a suitable permanent home can be found for them. When the Sneh Sadan home was damaged during a monsoon, ASHA donated substantial funds towards the renovations. ASHA has also raised funds for Sneh Sadan in the UK.
STREET CHILDREN IN INDIA
ASHA undertook fundraising for street children in India through ‘Give 5’, Channel 5's charity campaign. The programme on street children was designed to raise awareness and stimulate action. Funds were boosted as well as donations of clothes, books, and stationery. As a result of the programme, volunteers came forward to travel to India and contribute their skills in the homes for the children.
DIVYA CHAYA TRUST
Divya Chaya Trust was started in 1985 in Calcutta by four women who decided to create a support line for orphan children. ASHA has helped fund its project for girls to access primary education. ASHA is also on the board of the Trust’s international advisors.
Railway Children helps runaway and abandoned children who live in and around the world's railway stations. ASHA has been working in partnership with the Railway Children, involving volunteers, collecting donations at railway stations. ASHA also introduced the Railway Children to the Give 5 TV campaign.
ASHA’s disability projects are twofold. They aim to educate people in the Third World about basic hygiene and cut down on disease caused by insanitary conditions, whilst enabling those in the developed world to lead as full a life as possible.
MOBILE FIRST AID UNITS
ASHA assisted Valerie Mulcare-Tivy, who travels to India regularly and set up a mobile medical unit – teaching street children first aid and basic hygiene. This project has been running since 1997 and is now self-sustaining. Valerie is now looking to set up her first home for street children.
ASHA has donated funds to Shopmobility, Jersey, for wheelchairs and scooters for people with disabilities.
ASHA’s cultural projects are designed to bridge nationalities and cultures and to encourage and honour the contribution of all communities.
ROYAL NATIONAL THEATRE
ASHA worked with the Royal National Theatre to help fund young Asian women to study and perform in the theatre. This culminated in Nadya, a dynamic theatre production.
CHINESE COMMUNITY IN NORTHERN IRELAND
ASHA made a substantial donation to help build a community centre, to advance good relations with all communities in Northern Ireland and promote cultural diversity and mutual understanding. The Centre also helps individuals overcome difficulties of integration and the language barrier.
[http://www.asha-foundation.org ASHA Foundation]
[http://www.zerbanoogifford.org Zerbanoo Gifford]
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