Australian High Commission brings social change for slum kids

Friday, November 12, 2010

NEW DELHI - As many as 170 children from various slums in the city gathered here Friday to celebrate their joining of colleges after the Australian High Commission funded their school education and brought a social change in their lives.

Working in partnership with ‘Asha’, an NGO involved with these slum children, the Australian High Commission provided funding to support 170 children through their final years at school. With the NGO’s help, the children were able to get admissions to a range of universities, including the Delhi University.

“I believe in the transformative power of education and we are very proud to support the excellent work ASHA is doing to help Delhi’s underprivileged access these opportunities,” Australian High Commissioner Peter. N. Varghese said.

The students were seen interacting with Varghese, asking him questions and thanking him.

The high commissioner announced that Australia would again fund the NGO’s education programme in 2010-11 with a donation of Rs.10 lakh. Further, on behalf of the Australian athletes who participated in the recent Commonwealth Games, the commissioner donated Rs.2 lakh.

“The increasing link between Australia and India in the social sector mirror growth across the breadth of the bilateral relationship,” Varghese said.

Kiran Martin, founder and director of ASHA, said: “The girls are asked to help in the household chores while the boys are asked to earn. To fight all these social pressures apart from the financial constraints is a challenge.”

Slum children studying in prestigious colleges like Maitri, Gargi, Kamala Nehru, and Delhi College of Engineering talked about their experiences.

“My college fee is more than Rs.13,000… my family could not afford such a large amount and asked me to quit studying. I remember I was crying all day. If I didn’t have this NGO’s support, I could have never reached here,” said Nazia, a DU student.

Others echoed a similar sentiment, adding that their confidence levels have increased tremendously.

“I used to be scared to travel alone. I used to look at buses and think that I will never be able to get in. Now I come to college alone, I can travel to other areas of the city without any hesitation,” said a cheerful Rekha.

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