Sometimes we reach a point in life when we are thankful for what has been given to us and the desire to reciprocate takes over. We wish to help those less fortunate in some way. That was the spirit in which a small collection of UC Berkeley students started Asha.
Here is a brief note by one of the individuals who helped establish the group, V.J.P. Srivatsavoy.
It all started in April 1991. I was trying to organize a discussion group on educational issues. My initial idea was to start a non-profit research group of students who would be returning to India. The group would focus on the issues of education and appropriate technology for India.
Contrary to my expectations the response was initially lukewarm. The first two meetings were poorly attended. At the second meeting, Dinesh Verma suggested the creation of PC networks for information exchange. I talked about the establishment of an “open ended” network of various professionals, that could be utilized for developmental purposes. Arun Ahuja wanted to develop educational videos. Sandeep wanted to contribute to the primary education of poor children in India. Even though we all had slightly different approaches and interests, we had one thing in common — we wanted an action group.
The basic goals of the group emerged from these discussions. We decided to concentrate on basic education for children in India. Sandeep, Deepak and I drafted a preliminary constitution. Sandeep and Deepak did most of the initial work. On the way to San Francisco, one evening, we discussed possible names for the group: we agreed upon the name Asha – “hope” in some Indian languages. Thanks to the effort of a lot of people the group has surpassed our initial aspirations.
V.J.P.Srivatsavoy, one of the first members of Asha for Education, was working in India with Unilever, Mumbai. He passed away in May 2000. Please read the article about our late founder –Remembering Sri.