by Rohini Vemuganti
Asha Kiran works for the ‘untouchables’ of Harijanwada
No roads, small lanes with cactus on both sides, no concrete houses but huts made of dried grass, heat and open drainage. I was in an area called Harijanwada and is one of the areas where Asha Kiran works.
I was first taken to a small hut with a room which served as a kitchen,bedroom, and also store. An elderly lady, aged 78 years, in a red saree, was cleaning the floor with dung (it is supposedly medicinal) and came out when the Asha Kiran team called out ‘ Narsamma!’ As she came out, she was in tears. And then she poured out her grief of having no one to take care of her – she lives all alone. She can hardly walk on her own, making earning a living, difficult. In between the conversation, she folded her hand to Prakash and said “Meeru pette annam naku kadupu nimputhundi,” ( the food that you give is filling my stomach.)
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How it all began at Asha Kiran
The closest railway station to Asha Kiran is Pedana, a village located 10 kms away from Machilipatnam. A five-minute drive from the station into the village, I could see babies sleeping outside thatch huts as old men cut sticks for fishing rods.
A green one-storeyed building with a small board named Asha Kiran welcomed me at the entrance. Asha Kiran which translates to ‘A ray of hope’ has been working for the people of Machilipatnam and 37 other villages since 1987.