Grant Status $0 needed

2013 +
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The Mushahar tribe is an extremely disadvantaged community in India. As a dalit (untouchable) group, they are immensely discriminated against in public institutions, especially schools, to the point that they are discouraged from going. This program, known as Training for Independence, provides these Mushahar children with an alternative form of education – in a nonformal education setting with trained teachers (that are, in most cases, more effective than primary government school instructors). In addition to this education, the children will have the opportunity to receive a vocational education, exposure to life in the nearest city (Varanasi, U.P.), as they have never left the village and live extremely traditional lives. The purpose of this program is to give them the set of knowledge that will prepare them for life in the 21st century India – outside of the village – where they are aware of how to interact with people in urban settings, how to run their own small enterprises, and most importantly, how to read, write, and do arithmetic, for none of the above would be possible without that knowledge. This program also ensures that these children, who are often malnourished, are well fed for breakfast and lunch daily, and that they receive regular medical attention to ensure their well-being. Through this program, we hope to cover all the bases in the development of these children and really create a bright future for them.

$6,700 in raw materials costs includes: $5,200 to purchase basic foodstuffs and $1,500 for medical expenses.

$1,650 in other costs include contingency costs for emergency medical costs, potential infrastructure developments, building materials in the case of deterioration of current school building structure [very possible considering the weather conditions during monsoon season]


The Aasra Sewa Santhan project of Asha for Education has, in the last eight years, focused on a number of things – including children’s education, public rights, and employment guarantee. This is done primarily through NGO enforcement and utilization of the Right to Information Act of 2005 and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). We work primarily with the underserved and unheard group that is the Mushahar tribe. This new project is a comprehensive one unlike anything we’ve taken on before; however, our history in social work and full-time commitment to the betterment of the Mushahar people will ensure that this project creates the great impact we can possible muster.


The expected impact of this project is to create a brighter future for the Mushahar children of the Sevapuri block of villages in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh – one where the children live as per cultural standards in India in the 21st century and where they can sustain their own futures without external assistance.

Team Credentials

This project will be primarily administered by Ajay Patel, a social worker who has been doing work with Asha for Education since 2002. He has a Bachelors Degree in Social Work and has lived in the Sevapuri block where the project will be carried out for his entire life. The teachers and assistants in this project who will help carry out this project effectively are all trained by the Asha for Education teacher training program.


  • An update from the Asha Foundation

    The Musahar Project is giving a special group of children a reason to dream. We’re bringing a generation of “untouchables” a program designed to empower kids through creative education and good health. The Musahar tribe is a community in Northeastern India traditionally known (and named) for their habits of scavenging for and eating rats. Over the last 50 years, they've been subject to terrible discrimination by their nearby communities and the governmental infrastructures meant to help them grow. From birth, the children of the communities are subject to parents that put them in brick fields to labor while they use the little money they have on tobacco and alcohol, and any food they do get either comes from begging or not at all. Their literacy rates have stood at 3% for ages, and even when children attempt to take part in the school system that they have full rights to be a part of, teachers treat them in ways that discourage them from returning. To counter these effects, the ...
  • Update from the Asha Foundation

    A week after my finals exams at university came to a close, I made the move to open my mind a little bit. I ventured to the rural villages on the outskirts of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh to do some seva, some service, for people less fortunate than I with the Aasra Sewa Santhan project of Asha for Education. My expectations were few in number. I went there thinking I would have something cool to share with friends when they asked me what I did this summer. I went there thinking I would be someone who would directly effect some change in the world by working in the field instead of just fundraising at home. I went there thinking that my mere presence would be enough to change the entire dynamic of rural village conditions. I went there naïve. The conditions in rural Varanasi were unlike any I would have expected. Living there for two months was a shock that has introduced me to pumping gallons of water a day for hygiene needs, living with no electricity in 110 degree temperatures, consis...


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