Making a Difference

Asha Niketan: A celebration of life and a home of hope

“We change the world when we simply meet the needs of another” – Kristen Welch

One of the most important challenges in the rehabilitation of people with mental disabilities is caring, for it is the caregivers who do the toughest job.  The act of care giving is critical and it could range from physical, medical, social, psychological and even emotional caring.  Organizations dedicated to this and the overall cause of making a difference to the lives of the differently abled truly need a special commendation.

Source: http://larchefmrindia.org/
Source: http://larchefmrindia.org/

Asha Niketan, Bangalore

Asha Niketan located in the bustling locality of Koramangala, Bangalore is one such organization that believes that every life needs to be celebrated.   Based on the premise that every difference must be respected, it has successfully created a community of hope where differently abled men and women are not only given a life of dignity but is also involved in empowering them to be independent.  It is not only a place of healing but also a community of hope for people who are often rejected by family and society.  Here men and women from diverse backgrounds, religions and even different physical and mental abilities are looked after based on their needs thereby giving them the much-needed hope and strength to develop and even share their talents.

Courtesy: http://larchefmrindia.org/
Courtesy: http://larchefmrindia.org/

Background and History

Asha Niketan – FMR India is an affiliated member of L’Arche, an International Federation of communities throughout the world that was founded by Jean Vanier in France in 1964.  L’Arche, today is an organization that has 140 communities in the form family style homes, workshops and day care centres where people with intellectual disabilities (also known as core members) are given a new lease of life.   In India, L’Arche is a registered Society – FMR India (Fellowship with Mentally Retarded) and is an affiliated member of the international federation. The communities under FMR India are known as Asha Niketan (Homes of Hope) and today there are five communities located in Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Nandi Bazar (Kerala) and Asansol (West Bengal).

Courtesy: http://larchefmrindia.org/
Courtesy: http://larchefmrindia.org/

Started way back in 1970, Asha Niketan, Bangalore has been growing steadily with a clear focus on building inclusive communities of relationship and transformation where people with and without intellectual disabilities share their lives together.  Located in Koramangala since 2000, Asha Niketan provides residential and day care services for adults living with mental disabilities and other associated challenges. It has one residential unit for 13 male adults and 2 female adults who are mentally challenged and vocational training facilities for 25 adults that include both men and women who are in the age group of 22-86 years.

The institute is managed under the supervision and guidance of retired eminent professionals from various fields.  The day to day management is done by Mr. Paul, community leader who brings in a sea of experience of 20 plus years at Ashaniketan, Bangalore

Vocational Training

Vocational training units or sheltered work as it is called here, is an integral element in the life of Asha Niketan’s members.  According to them, work is an important part of society facilitating the exchange of resources as well as a source of creativity and positive relationship. It is quite common that members have grown up with low self-esteem and have often been perceived as a burden.  But at Asha Niketan, empowering such individuals and providing them an opportunity to work and take responsibility is paramount and has several positive outcomes.

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The vocational training includes candle making, loom work, bead work, embroidery, paper craft, bamboo craft and horticulture.  Apart from this, the institute celebrates all major festivals like Diwali, Pongal, and Christmas.  There is an exclusive room for prayer and meditation too.

Future plans

Given that the current residential group is fast ageing, it is the desire of Asha Niketan to be able to meet their changing needs at home and in their day to day activities.  Plans to build a second community home for adolescent girls/women with mental disabilities is on the anvil.  Currently, they have accommodated five mentally challenged women in their existing building.

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How you can help
Kindness is like snow, it beautifies everything it covers. – Kahlil Gibran

There are several ways you can get involved.  There are opportunities to become a live-in assistant/volunteer.  Based on your skills you can choose to either live and work in a home, or work in an occupational therapy / production workshop. 

Asha Niketan also needs funds to meet their annual running costs as well as funds for new projects and development.  You can also help either by regular donation or by purchasing products made by the members.  FMR India – Asha Niketan was registered in April 1970 as a Society under the Mysore Registration of Societies Act of 1960. It has obtained Section 80 G exemption under the Income Tax Act of 1961 and has been granted the facility for the receipt of foreign funds under the FCR Act of 1975.

Contact Details:   Asha Niketan Bangalore is situated at No.7, 20th Main, 6th Block Koramangala, Bangalore 560095.  Tel: +91 – 80 – 25524584, Email: ashaniketanbangalore@gmail.com.   More details can be obtained on their website.

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