Nandini Jairam and Jairam Kalyanasundharam


Asha for Education

In the summer of 1991, three students from Berkeley, CA got together to think of ways in which they could play a role in the development of India, the country of their origin. These young people shared the belief that education is a critical requisite and an effective catalyst for social and economic change in India. Basic education became the agenda for the action group that emerged from this gathering. The group was named Asha to represent the hope that had brought these individuals together and the hope that they aimed to bring into the lives of children in India. In that summer of 1991, Asha was born at the University of California in Berkeley. Today there are 73 Asha chapters worldwide, and over $18Million disbursed to more than 400 projects in India.

Asha Austin

Started in 2002, Asha-Austin now supports 19 projects in India. Each year, Asha-Austin trains volunteers to run in a 10k, 13.1mi or 26.2mi in the hopes of raising funds to support its 19 projects.


This year, Jairam and I are part of the 22-member Team Asha, collectively aiming to raise over $50K. If you know me, you know quite well that I am certainly not athletic and never have been. My most glorious accomplishment in sports ended in a semi-final girls’ throw-ball match in class 9. 🙂

But… today, I am running for the first time in my life. I am running for a cause. I realize that I am blessed to have grown up with a nurturing family and my mother who was always willing to make sacrifices to see her daughter soar and reach for her dreams. Many of you may have grown up the same way, taking for granted the opportunities that you received.


Although I’m fairly athletic (played cricket for my university; play tennis on/off), my laziness usually gets the better of me. Hence my favorite activities over the past few years have involved a beer, a couch and a TV :-). But I’m hoping to change some of that this year…I’m really excited about my first attempt at running a half-marathon and raising money for Asha for Education by running the Austin Half-Marathon on Feb 20th 2011.

I got involved with Asha when I started to support two kids’ education through Asha Samajik Vidyalaya (ASV), a current Asha project. As I began to understand the ASV program and its initiatives, I began to appreciate how fortunate I was as a kid, to have the opportunities that I had. I was born in a family that could provide for my food and education. Many kids in India find education out of reach and even struggle to find one square meal a day.

Nandini and I want to be able to play a small part in putting more kids through school. Raising money by running for Asha is our way of doing just that. We sincerely hope that with the money we raise today, children – from blind girls and boys in Bidar, Karnataka to rural kids in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan – can learn and one day live their lives with dignity.

Three things about donating to Asha

1. Asha for Education is a zero-overhead organization – that means, every dollar that you donate is used only towards supporting an Asha project and not for any miscellaneous expenditure incurred by the organization.

2. Donations to Asha are tax-deductible in the USA under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code.

3. Corporate matching is an excellent method to automatically match your donations. Please check here if your company has a matching program.

Please help us achieve our goal by donating. Remember – no amount is too small. Jairam and I cannot thank you enough for donating to our cause. Give with your heart!