Asha Kiran, which operates in premises adjacent to Asha Sadan in the Umerkhadi Jail in central Mumbai provides a Day Care and Learning shelter for street children. It aims to care for and provide for the development of children within their environment through education, vocational learning and social studies teaching them the basis of health and hygiene, and developing in them a sense of self respect.
These are children who would otherwise spend time on the streets of the city, begging on under constant threat of exploitation. Asha Kiran works on the simple premise that they deserve better and is a tribute to their resilience and their ability to thrive with a little care and nurturing. Every day, almost 200 children who visit the Centre are enrolled in and sent to schools, provided nutritious meals and looked after. Children arrive here for the day from distant parts of the city.
Asha Kiran aims to provide safe shelter and nutrition to children, education, physical and mental health support, skill development, sports and recreation and also attempts to reunite runaways with families where possible.
A typical day begins with a bath, a prayer, a snack and exercises. After a group discussion and non formal classes, children are provided lunch and are encouraged to play outdoors. They then are imparted formal education and leave in the evening after a snack. Special attention is paid to imparting social skills and hygiene. Children are sent to schools when they are ready; admission is arranged for and extra coaching is also provided.
While there are no instant solutions for children who have been denied their right to education, and integrating children into formal education takes time, Asha Kiran employs various means of educational intervention, both formal and non-formal with the ultimate objective of bringing these children into the mainstream.
The Centre also provides night shelter to approximately 25 young girls who have been deprived of the comfort of being safe and secure in their own homes. These girls attend schools or colleges in the day and return to the shelter at night instead of going back to their homes in unsafe environments where they are under threat.
Asha Kiran runs with the help of two full time social workers, a fulltime administrator, three preschool teachers, three supervisors, a counselor and an office assistant who are fully devoted to the task of ensuring a safe haven for street children and an environment where they are allowed to grow as well as children in secure homes.