Ashiyana means “beautiful home”. We know that a home is so much more than four walls. It is somewhere where we feel protected, where we go to be comforted and where we know we will always belong. The children and youth that we work with have no place they can call home. By creating spaces that nurture inner transformation in the most holistic and meaningful way, we want to give these forgotten children a chance to shine.

Our story began in 2012 when a few volunteers wanted to bring colour to the tall white walls of the Umerkhadi Children’s Home, a facility for vulnerable children who were runaways, missing or rescued from the streets, rescued from child labour and trafficking in Mumbai. Every Sunday, children and volunteers came together to paint a large mural on the tall white walls of the home. The most important thing we did was to simply spend time with the children and listen.

Often we would come back home with names and numbers written on scrap papers. The children wanted us to call their parents and help them unite with their family. This really moved many of us. Slowly, we identified more and more opportunities for change and the ways in which we could respond to the needs of the home. In our debriefing circles we often heard volunteers say how they thought they came here to serve but instead something within them had changed.