ASVAS & DASS
THE STORY OF ASVAS
“As he went ashore he saw a great crowd and he had compassion for them” (Mk 6:34).
The long cherished dream of Dharmaram College to embark on an active Social Service centre was brought to its fruition with the inauguration of Asvas, a training centre for the differently abled, within the heart of the city of Bangalore. Asvas, the Dharmaram Centre for the differently abled and elderly is famously known for the distribution of free mid-day meals for the hungry, sick, elderly and slum children of the locality, mostly patients and bystanders coming from National Kidwai Cancer Institute and National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS).
A glance around Asvas reveals the disheartening sight of young and old with their bald head, sad faces, heavy hearts and empty stomachs waiting patiently for their share of food. The motivation to provide mid-day meal to the cancer patients, bystanders and the poor people is solely inspired from the compassionate Heart of Jesus, who multiplied bread and extended care and love for the needy.
The blessing and inauguration of ASVAS was held on 20 September, 2010 by Rev. Dr Augustine Thottakara CMI, the then Rector of Dharmaram College. ASVAS is a project started under the Dharmaram Association of Social Service (DASS).
1. To Reach out to the Marginalized
Since its inauguration in June 2010, Asvas is organizing and coordinating various training programmes for the differently abled. The special “Job Mela” programme for the physically differently abled young candidates of Bangalore Urban and Rural Districts was on July 17, 2010. The main purpose of the “Job Mela”was to impart skill training to the disabled and enable them to get decent job in both public and private sector organizations.
Asvas in collaboration with APD (Association of People with Disability) and other local NGOs organised a Mega Conference for a group of 400 hearing and speech impaired persons on December 24-27, 2010 at Christa Vidyalaya Campus. The main purpose of the conference was to facilitate a group of hearing impaired children and their parents to bridge the gap between hearing and the non-hearing in the field of communication. Asvas also coordinated and organised a five month BOP (Back Office Process) and DEO (Data Entry Operator) training programmes for 20 persons with hearing and speech impairment in collaboration with “Enable India” Accenture, Bangalore, in August 2012 and the CCNA course of five months for 20 visually impaired was also conducted.
Asvas provides food for at least 500 people every day which begins with a short prayer followed by preparation for the lunch which is finally served by afternoon. The lunch basically consists of rice, sambar, ragi ball (muddhe), pickle, pappad and vegetable mix. During summer we also serve butter milk and fruits. The increasing number of Cancer patients like children, who lost their eye-sight due to cancer, women suffering from breast cancer, men in pains due to lung cancer and others, visit Asvas regularly and fill their empty stomachs with heart full of gratitude, feeling the true essence of Asvas, the consolation of the Comforter.
Christ Special School is another venture started in June 2012, for taking care and offering rehabilitation of mentally challenged children between the ages of seven to fourteen from the vicinity of Bangalore city. The mission of Christ Special School includes creating awareness in the society as well as among parents about their obligation towards such people. It is done by giving training to promote creative activities such as drawing, painting and handicraft works, by updating their skills and knowledge. The strength of the students undergoing training at present is 20.
Today Asvas is a well-known social service centre in Bangalore city. A lot of prominent personalities have been visiting and appreciating the services of Asvas. The present Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church, His Beatitude Cardinal Mar George Alenchery, on his visit to Asvas commented, “The social service which the CMI fathers of Bangalore render to the poor and the marginalized show the human face of the Church for the poorer section of the society.” Indeed, Asvas reveals the human face of the CMI congregation in Bangalore.
Asvas is an example and model in today’s society where, selfishness, injustice and corruption are increasing. This house of mercy provides relief for many of the poor and marginalized people. Let us join our hands with Asvas, which is very much valuable in the eyes of God.
2. The Helping Hands
Asvas, the Dharmaram Centre for the differently abled and underprivileged, satisfy the hunger of heart and stomach. While some volunteers serve food, others would be out talking with the people, lending an ear to their worries and problems of the day. Asvas is blessed with volunteers who regard their action as a noble service. They reach here by 10 am for cutting vegetables and preparing food for the poor and the sick. Brothers of Dharmaram, members of Mathruvedhi, Professional Forum members and the Youth wing of St Thomas Forane Church come and serve every day.
People from all walks of life come voluntarily to serve at Asvas. Apart from the regular volunteers from St. Thomas Forane Church, there are students from Dharmaram College, Christ University, Christ School, DVK, and employees of IT firms, teachers and government servants from different offices. They come daily and join in this house of mercy and return with a mind filled with immense satisfaction, peace and joy. It is a fact that in a short span of nine years, Asvas could reach out to almost ten lakhs of needy people with mid-day meals with the help of the voluntary services of great hearts.
3. DASS at its Service
DASS also spends about Rs. 8 Lakhs every year for the home based-disabled sick persons and the elderly people of the locality to buy medicine, food and also for housing. About Rs. 3 lakhs is used for the education of the financially backward children. Besides these activities of DASS, every department and allied institutions of Dharmaram College spend a good amount of money and energy for the social welfare of the people.
4. Birds of Same Feather Flock Together
Asvas is also an undertaking through the efforts of collaboration and co-operation of several socially like-minded people and organizations of Bangalore city. Like Alumni Association of Christ University, Enable India, Association of People for Differently abled (APD), Kind Heart, AMOGH, Ability in Disability, etc., render their services in collaboration with Asvas. Recently AMOGH, a charitable trust, has joined with Asvas, and remains instrumental in running a Vocational training and Guidance Centre for mentally challenged adults. The trainees are taught basic computer programming that includes graphics, data collection and training to make paper plates. The basic concept of Asvas is “People’s Contribution and People’s Participation.”
In nutshell, Asvas stands by its name as a house of comfort and consolation to the needy and the marginalized brothers and sisters within the localities of Bangalore; no matter what religion they profess or what strata of the society they belong to. A handful of rice filled with a pinch of love has made the difference in the lives of many and Asvas will continue to do so in the future. We wish and pray that the Divine Compassionate heart of Lord Jesus reign in each person’s heart.