Student Verses – Poonam Waghri

One of our exceptional students, Poonam is a budding poet and a social change maker. Along with a team of students from her school, Avsara Academy, she participated in the International Changemakers Olympiad in January 2020, to tackled a relevant social issue she could identify. She and her team took sessions on anger management and stress relief for healthy behaviour practices for her peers in two schools including AIC. They reached out to at least 50 students and made a positive impact in their lives!

Here are a few poetry verses penned down by Poonam in June 2020

Dear our Mother Earth,

First of all

I don’t know how did

Humans know your gender?

What made us decide this?

And if we did

Do we take care of you

Like our Mothers?

Sometimes you are so parched

That you gulp a single rain drop in a flash of light.

You bear the scorching hot sun,

So that we could live in peace.

But we never asked you what you wanted…

We have infrastructural activities to rank ourselves number one

In economy

Every moment we plucked a flower or the whole tree

By its roots

We ignored your cries..

We spoiled your beautiful

Water bodies with our human waste

But this COVID19

Brought you in spotlight..

We are able to reflect on our selfish actions.

From now

I personally grow a small tree

Every Mother’s day


A change maker of AIC, if you wake up Parinaz, fondly known as Pari, in the middle of the night and give her a math problem, she will happily take out her books and solve it! She has been passing this enthusiasm for the subject to her beloved students at AIC for the last three years.

Managing multiple roles at AIC currently, Pari aspired to be a teacher since she was in the 10th grade and she finally believes she has the job she was made for! She enjoys being a part of the AIC family and feels a sense of belonging to the community. She aims to be a mentor to each of her students and loves to enthusiastically take on any task that is assigned to her which makes her to perfect fit for the AIC team.

“The naughtiest of the children brighten your days and the best ones give you pride. Such are the children at Ashraya!” – Parinaz


Meet our football superstar Anjali! Striker to now goalkeeper, she has been playing football for her school team for years now. An enthusiastic learner with a positive attitude in school and Ashraya, Anjali has is a valued member of her school football team. Having received various medals and certificates for her performance nothing comes in the way of her goals!

Anjali is an allrounder both in school and Ashraya and has an excellent way of balancing out her studies and extracurriculars. In January 2020, she won Man of the Match for the Just for Kicks football tournament held in Pune. Anjali was the Captain of the Under 12 girls team and led their way to the semi-finals by only letting in 5 goals in the entire tournament.

We are proud of Anjali for breaking stereotypes around the sport and excelling at it too!

Student Feature – Bhagyashree Ghodke

Bhagyashree is in her last year of college and she’s boldly going where no Ashraya child has been before….into fashion designing! In a society with a preference for doctors and engineers, Bhagyashree’s unique career choice and her internship with Ashraya makes her our feature for this issue.

She has been attending Ashraya classes nearly every day since she was in the 4th standard. After 10th, she was given the opportunity of interning with Ashraya for two months, in which she learned how to use the computer, developed her English skills, and taught a few pre-primary classes.

Bhagyashree was happily surrounded by clothes as a child and her sister was a tailor, so she learned how to sew and decided to pursue fashion designing in college. She is great with the sewing machine; she put together an entire salwaar kameez dress in a day for a younger student for the Annual Day.

Now that she is studying fashion design, her favorite part of the process is sketching and imagining ensembles, especially the long, embellished skirts worn as traditional wear in India, called gaghras.

She also received the Fashion Designer of the year award in her college in 2019. She has also been chosen to represent her college in the Lakme Fashion Week. Bhagyashri plans to open a boutique after her course is over and is working extra hard to achieve that dream.

We are proud of her success and wish her the best!

Student Feature: Aditi Burutkar

Aditi Burutkar’s ambition is extraordinary. She has taken advantage of every single opportunity that has come her way. A school “topper” and a recipient of quite a few school awards, Aditi is all about achieving success in the fields that she excels in and is passionate about.

Ashraya selected two students to attend a leadership camp in Dehradun, Uttarakhand at the end of May. Aditi was one and Saniya Dalal the other (we’ve written a Facebook post about their selection). This ten day camp included adventure activities, critical thinking exercises, theater, and space to debate about big social issues facing India.

Read more…

Ashraya’s Goals for the 2018-2019

When we say that our models for adolescent development and education are holistic, we literally mean that we start from the womb and end when the child is placed in a job.

A child cannot grow up well if her/his mother is not well fed and cared for. We see to the mother’s health when she is pregnant by providing supplements. When the child is born, the mother brings her baby to our health center’s mother-baby classes and we focus on their nutrition and hygiene. Then, the child attends extra classes, beginning from nursery, all the way to 10th standard. And we don’t stop there; we want to see our students studying in colleges around the city (and around the world) and then land a job. Ultimately, we want them to take the leadership in transforming their communities, where once, going to school wasn’t an option. But we don’t live in such times anymore. Quality education is a right for every child and we want them to become change makers in their own communities. by teaching the importance of education to future generations.

Read more…

Ranjana’s journey

AIC rockstar student Ranjana is in Austria right now competing as a part of India’s national floor hockey team in the Special Olympics World Winter Games!! Talk about an INCREDIBLE (and so, so deserved!) opportunity for this hard-working girl, who climbed her way to the top through district, state, and national-level selections for the team. Last week, she was even able to meet up with AIC board member, Judith, who is based in Austria and has known Ranjana for years.

Please join us in congratulating Ranjana on the team’s bronze medal in the floor hockey events!

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India’s 70th Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!


Leading up to our official celebration of India’s 70th Independence Day, the AIC Education Centre was brimming with excitement and patriotism all of last week. Staff and visitors alike were treated to unofficial concerts and mini performances as classes rehearsed their songs and dances to practice for the big day. Meanwhile, teachers spent time organizing activities like flag-making to gear up for the main event and squeeze in a lesson on Indian history and civics. Read more…

The results are in…

…and the AIC kids have done us proud!

Earlier this month, AIC students and staff logged into an online portal with breathless anticipation to check the results of standard 10 board exams. For those unfamiliar with the Indian education system, board exams are secondary school completion exams that are taken after grade 10. The scores from these exams are extremely important in determining eligibility for junior college, university, and other higher education opportunities, hence we take them pretty seriously here at AIC.

Standard 10

One of AIC’s 10th standard classes, with staff (© Sarah Lauzé Photography)

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The AIC difference

Little Priya, affectionately known as Piyu, is 3 years old and just completed the year-long playgroup program in April. She will now be starting nursery school in June. Recently, we sat down with her mother to discuss her feelings about AIC, the playgroup program, and the Waghri community with which AIC works.

Priya at playgroup (© Sarah Lauzé Photography)

Priya at playgroup (© Sarah Lauzé Photography)

Read more…

A New Beginning and a Fond Goodbye

February was a busy month here at AIC, with a new class being launched and a bittersweet farewell to one of our longtime staff and friends. Madhavi has been with our team for nearly 3 years as the Health Outreach Director, and has been such a blessing during her time here. She is leaving not by choice, but for medical reasons, and wishes to stay connected with the AIC community as much as she can. Madhavi’s last day on site was one filled with a surprise party, many tears, and even more laughter. She stated that, “it is a day I will cherish forever, to see all four aspects of AIC represented in one room, all come together to appreciate and acknowledge the work I have done. I felt such a sense of accomplishment in that moment, to see everyone there together.” 


Read more…

The Fight for Change

AIC team members had no idea that Thursday, February 18th, would be a particularly eventful day when they prepared to head into work that morning. However, around 8:45, Education Program Director, Bunty received a call from teachers at Krantiveer Lahuji Vastad Salve E-Learning School (a nearby government school where 34 AIC students are enrolled) informing her that several AIC students were believed to have been involved in a theft earlier in the week.

SL-6621Since we are making an active effort to encourage families to take an increased role in their children’s educations, Bunty told the parents of the children in question to head to the school to get more details, and that she would be over shortly to sort things out. Read more…

My Children will be Different

Happy International Day of the Girl Child! As everyone who is familiar with AIC undoubtedly knows, the rights and education of girls are central to the work that we do. Although change is happening slowly within the Waghri and Sikligar communities, women and girls still bear the brunt of inequality, violence, illiteracy, malnutrition, child marriage, and early parenthood.

One such girl is Archana, a student in AIC’s Education Program, who has decided to speak publicly about her experiences fleeing her husband earlier this year.


Archana in 2008

Archana was a student in AIC’s Education Outreach Program from late 2007 to mid-2012 when her parents covertly arranged her marriage. Read more…

A Child who Reads Becomes an Adult who Thinks

International Literacy Day, according to UNESCO, is a day to celebrate and promote literacy, a “basic human right and fundamental building block for learning as well as a personal empowerment tool.”


As the underlying themes that underpin our work are the education, cultivation, and empowerment of the next generation of Waghri and Sikligar community members, this occasion is quite significant for us here at AIC. Read more…