ASHA Project : Torch Bearer
Dr. Neha Vakharia
‘Mahila Manch 2007’ Award for outstanding social contribution
Felicitated during their Golden Jubilee Celebration by Bhagini Samaj Charitable Trust, Bangalore.
First and foremost, she is an M.B.B.S. doctor. She had joined Oasis when she was a student and she says that Oasis added important values of humanity and selfless services in her training as a doctor. During the same period while she was a medical student, She underwent her share of serious illnesses. She was in tremendous stress, but, again, she says, thanks to Oasis, that she took the illness positively. The seeds of limitations of allopathic medicines and importance of alternative medicines were sown during her illness.
Right from beginning, in every Oasis camp and gathering, like many other youths, she used to share her dreams of serving the poor of India and other third world countries. Mother Theresa was her ideal. But unlike many others, her passion to serve was so authentic that it only grew with time. After completing her studies, equipped by the lofty idealism of making life more meaningful by service to humanity, she joined a private hospital at Vadodara. But she felt some guilt pinching, the biting of conscience-that she was not doing the right thing by serving the rich when poor people were so under privileged.
As part of some “crazy” experiments facilitated by Oasis, she went to stay in slums for about 1 to 2 months to experience their living conditions. The experience in her words, “This exposure brought me closer to reality of millions of underprivileged people of our country. They would share from whatever was in their home even if they were not sure about where the next meal would come from. I was astonished to see the greatness of their heart despite their poverty and felt ashamed of the poverty of my heart. While staying amongst them, I also witnessed the amount of physical abuse, mental torture, hard life, ill health, humiliation etc a poor Indian woman has to undergo. At the same time I felt proud of them as I could see them as tough warriors balancing between being a mother, loyal wife and most hard working, earning member of families.”
Of course, Neha left her job. It was adieu for life time. After getting married, she had to shift to Bangalore where she promptly started health service centers in the slums around her area. While working there for years in a dedicated way, she realized that people were visiting her centers again and again with the same illnesses. She also observed that many patients suffered from severe liver or lung diseases leading to early death. All these experiences compelled her to introspect. She had to find out some solutions and interventions at an early, tender age. Thus Oasis, ASHA – Adolescent Students’ Health Alternative- was born.
The help from volunteers slowly brought out another component of this activity viz. involvement of Women/housewives for educating these underprivileged slum children. Today, Neha and her core team of extremely talented and dedicated women friends are talking health classes as a year round supplementary course to hundreds of students in municipality schools. “ASHA of Oasis” has spread to Ahmedabad in Gujarat and is dreaming to reach more and more children in different cities in the coming years.
Was all this easy? The answer is obvious - serious illness, fragile health, social pressures for traditional career, and with all human weaknesses, she did this. How? With her sense of gratitude for everything, with her unflinching passion-come what may-, and her dedication that’s so overpowering, life had to bow to her.
What gives her so much of strength? Swami Vivekananda’s philosophy has been life long inspiration for Neha- “It is only with great fortune and immense grace of God that you have got the opportunity to serve the ignorant, diseased and suffering humanity. If you dedicate yourself completely in a selfless way, you realize the unlimited power within you.”
Neha says, “I have no regret whatsoever about leaving the conventional career and serving poor people like this. I never cared for earning and being wealthy. Having millions of rupees in my account, has no comparison with what I have got today in my heart. I have a definite, important role to play through Oasis Movement, I have been able to recognize my mission and for that I feel very happy, very grateful to Oasis and God.” Imagine a few more such educated youths emulating Neha’s example in future. Imagine them working for educating billions of children of our country. Thank you Neha for living your dream!
For writing to Neha and getting involved in her project mail at or
The MISSION STATEMENT of Neha
RIGHT, COST EFFECTIVE, LONG LASTING HEALTH SOLUTIONS
For the most vital, irreplaceable and invaluable resources
of our country- i.e. Children/Youth/People
And thus work towards Healthy, Vibrant, Prosperous Nation.