The Association for Social Health in India (ASHI) is one of the oldest voluntary organizations in the country, completing its 94 years of existence this year (2022). It was established in India in 1928 when Ms. Meliscent Shephard was deputed as Head of the India Chapter by the parent organization in England. It was then known as the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene (AMSH). In 1937 the Association was registered under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860. In 1974 the organization was re-registered as the Association for Social Health in India (ASHI) to broaden its scope of work. ASHI stands tall among NGOs and has a reputation of being one of the most dedicated, reliable and transparent organization working for the marginalized sections of society since more than nine decades.
A brief sketch of the evolution of the Association, given below, may be of interest to many of our readers.
Launched, initially in Calcutta, with the objective of conducting an investigation into the tolerated vice areas and abolition of vices such as Trafficking of women and children, the Association worked actively, along with the Government and State departments, towards bringing about much needed reforms. In a few years, it moved its Headquarters to Delhi and was represented at the All India Women’s Conference.
In 1965 Maharani Mohinder Kaur was elected President of the Association. She continued to motivate, lead and steer the organization towards fulfillment of its mission for five decades. Mrs. Shakuntala Lal was elected Secretary General, also in 1965, and she too held the post honorably till the time she passed away in 1998. She was instrumental in giving ASHI a pan India presence. Together, they participated and represented India at various conferences held in different parts of India and the world. Dr. Sumitra Srivastava remained the elected Secretary General of the Association for nearly a decade thereafter. These and many other women were strong pillars of ASHI and the guiding force for all members and staff of ASHI. Their dedication and commitment for social work permeated down to every level of the organization, to the extent that till date, ASHI serves the marginalized with the same spirit and zeal. Presently, Smt. Rupinder Kumari is the elected President of the Association and it is under her able guidance that ASHI continues it’s work.
ASHI, gradually, spread its wings covering significant social and moral issues, although, over the years, the focus was modified as per the changing social fabric and needs of the less privileged children, women and youth. The basic aim of ASHI has always been and continues to be ‘Empowerment of Women, Children and Youth’ belonging to the less privileged section of society. However, with passing time, the modes of achieving this went through significant changes. Strategies have been gradually modified to adapt to changes in the moral and social structure of the Indian society.
The objectives of ASHI are to impart vocational skills and equip them to become economically independent and self-reliant, to promote health awareness and education among women, children and youth, to provide counselling and guidance services by professionals and social workers to brace them to face the realities of life and live with dignity.
ASHI provides services both at the Institutional and Community level in various states of India. At the Institutional level, ‘Swadhar Greh’ for women, children home in a few state, an age old home, family counselling centers, women and child helplines, drug deaddiction centers have been established.
“The Family Support Services Project” at the Headquarters in Delhi focusses mainly on providing Education and Health services at the Community level. It caters to the communities and schools in Central Delhi, located in the vicinity of the ASHI office. Non-formal education centers for non-school going and school going children, adult literacy centers and a library for encouraging children to read and learn on their own or under supervision. School Intervention programs include organizing and conducting workshops and small group discussions on relevant and important social issues, as per the age group of children. Individual and group counselling sessions are taken in schools by experienced counsellors.
Various Vocational/Life skill programs are organized and conducted by qualified resource persons at the ASHI premises, courses such as in Computer applications, Mobile and hardware repairing, Beauty culture and Health care, Stitching and Tailoring, Dress designing, Mehndi application and Spoken/Communicative English.
Besides, the project provides Counselling and Referral services, organizes Health camps periodically and gives free medical assistance to the needy. It also helps women in generating income through internship and other programs. Training and capacity building for students and volunteers from reputed schools and colleges is a significant component of the project. Documentation and compilation of case studies is a regular feature.
ASHI has a strong network with other NGO’s, Institutions and the CSR departments of various reputed organizations. Well meaning, dedicated and committed people/ organizations are always welcome to join us in our mission to uplift the standards of the less privileged and help them to become confident, economically independent and self-reliant.