Ashwini Charitable Trust (ACT) is a non-governmental organisation that educates and empowers underprivileged children from urban slums in Bangalore. The trust’s mission is not only to sponsor children's education but also to support them till they are gainfully employed. The organisation began with 9 children on April 1st 2000 and now has 145 children as of 2011-12. The trust not only pays the school fees of these 145 children but also ensures that each child receives a well-rounded education acquiring all the skills they would require in the working world. Children are informed about the importance of health, hygiene and on keeping their environment disease free to ensure physical well-being. ACT helps children handle problems they face in their homes through counseling and life skills workshops. Students decide their own punishment for indiscipline through student parliament thus making them more responsible and self-conscious. Recreation through sports and games is provided to the children thus enabling them to focus on goals in the spirit of sportsmanship and companionship. Hobby classes, from Bharatanayam to art workshops, are held regularly in a quest to find each child’s talent. 14th January 2005 was a landmark in the history of ACT. With the help of Mr.Natarajan (then Branch Manager) and Mr.Chandru of State Bank of India (SBI), M.G. Road branch, Bangalore ACT was able to start savings bank accounts for all our children with their mothers thus giving them financial freedom. ACT sees volunteers from all walks of life; from software engineers and retired professionals to teachers, housewives and school students, all doing their part to bridge the gap between the have and the have-nots.
What can you do to help? Since all the children at the organisation are first generation learners, the job of volunteers is to build some basic skills of the children. ACT encourages people of all ages to come and volunteer. Being a volunteer at the trust doesn’t necessarily mean that one has to be a professional at a certain craft to teach it to the students. A volunteer can help the students with their studies, assist them in improving their reading and writing, teach a sport, dancing and singing or even a musical instrument. If teaching is not your foray one can even play games and organize picnics and outings for the children.