India’s on the rise. With its large population and impressive economic growth rates, India is on course to become one of the world’s greatest economic powers, propelled by its IT capacity, large English-speaking workforce, and growing middle class. So the pervasive optimism about India’s future is well-founded. But the news reports don’t tell the whole story.
While many Indians, particularly in urban areas, have been able to take advantage of the economic opportunities of India’s growth, just as many have not. One of the key choke points is access to high quality education. And in India, that means attending a private school, which is impossible for the millions who cannot afford expensive private school fees.
It is for these people that the Ashray Charitable Trust (ACT) was founded. Located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, we work with the residents of the Nagwa basti, a slum which houses some 3000 people in crowded and often unhygienic conditions. Even though Untouchability has been illegal for decades, the economic and social consequences of this evil live on in this community of Dalits (formerly called Untouchables), people whom society has let down for so long. The families depend on the meager earnings brought in by work like driving boats and rickshaws or painting houses and thus are among the many who cannot afford to send their children to private schools. Many, too, have not been taught proper hygiene, and tuberculosis and other diseases are common.
ACT works to right these wrongs through both meeting immediate needs of the basti people and empowering them through education. This two-fold approach has already shown success. We believe that through our continued efforts ACT and the many who have partnered with us can build a better future with this community, a future in which no goes hungry and everyone receives a high-quality education, in which everyone regardless of the circumstances he or she was born into has a fair shot at success in life. If you can help us,