Encore Volunteer Helps Indian NGO in the Fight Against Tuberculosis
By Erin Madsen on Monday, November 15th, 2010
Linda Layfield (RPCV Haiti 81-88; Staff Uzbekistan, Madagascar, The Baltics, Lesotho 00-07) just finished her service as an Encore Volunteer in New Delhi, India with Operation ASHA (OpASHA). OpASHA (the word “asha” means “hope” in Hindi) is a non-government organization (NGO) based out of Delhi, India and Chicago, Illinois that aims to eradicate tuberculosis worldwide. They treat tuberculosis (TB) amongst more than two million individuals, most of whom live in the slum areas of India. Here is what Linda has to say about her time there:
Operation ASHA has been an incredible volunteer experience. The entire team is truly a big family. And the two founders are the most amazing people. Dr. Shelly is totally dedicated to eradicating TB worldwide, and I believe she will do it. Her co-founder, Sandeep is so well networked worldwide that it seems when there are needs, he gets the word out, and the needs are met. Although it is not quite that simple, as they both work 18-20 hour days, it seems.
Operation ASHA is growing rapidly. They have gone from 35 to 123 DOTS (Directly Observed Therapy- Short Course) Centers in the slums of northern India in just 8 months. They really work with the poorest of the poor. The rag-picker’s slum is an astonishing place. The families there all live in cardboard and plastic sheeted huts and garbage is all around. This is their livelihood. They sort through all the garbage and salvage items to sell and recycle.
Operation ASHA is poised to grow even more than they have already to expand all over the country. They have also just opened programs in Cambodia and Morocco and are working to duplicate the model of OpASHA India in those countries.
To learn more about OpASHA, visit their website at www.opasha.org
From 2010 to 2012, the National Peace Corps Association administered a pilot Joint Project with Encore Service Corps International that has now ceased operations, so this program is no longer active. Click here to learn more.