Reaching Out, Helping Out: Aasra’s Orientation

Reaching Out, Helping Out: Aasra’s Orientation

Magna Mishra | Aug 05, 2019

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A freshman’s first week in NIT Rourkela is memorable for 3 things- the hullabaloo of 8 AM classes, the nagging homesickness and finally, the euphoria of club orientations. This week we bring you the orientation of Aasra, the social service club of NITR. Founded in 2005, Aasra prides itself as a club that goes beyond just providing financial or educational aid to the needy. They work at 7 places across Rourkela which include: Sector 2, Sector 6, Sector 21, Chhend, Jagda, Khalsa and OSAP (Odisha State Armed Police). They are also the only club who draw their funding from the Alumni Association instead of SAC. Aasra is currently led by President Hemalatha Alapathi and Vice President Abhisekh Vaidya.

The orientation was held at LA 114 on the 1st of August. After a slight delay of 15 minutes, the event started at around 5:45 PM. It was presided over by Prof DP Acharya, Prof RK Biswal and Prof A Thirugnanam. The initial leg was hosted by members Gokul and Deepti. It was a fun, light-hearted interaction intended at making the freshers comfortable. The next phase focused on familiarising the audience with the work that the club does. Some examples include:

  • Diya Projects: Mud lamps made by unprivileged women are sold during Diwali. donating the profits to them.
  • Little Science Yard: An exhibition for primary school students during the tech fest.
  • Awareness Camps: Skits or speeches are delivered by the members about social issues. 
  • Documenting the details of people in need of governmental aid
  • Blood donation camps

Amlan Sahoo and Adarsh Verma took over the mic next. Speaking about his time in Aasra, Amlan said 

College helps you rediscover yourself. When we interact with children, we connect with a different side of our personality.

A senior member of the club, Vishal also spoke about his experience. He said:

Before joining Aasra, I used to be caught up with myself and in my work. But here I found that everyone was connected on a much deeper level. When I attended a function in one of the communities, I saw how invested they are in their interactions.

Two students named Bishram and Mamata, who studied with the help of Aasra’s members shared their stories. Mamata said

It has been 6 years since I first came to Aasra. They encouraged me to study further. From where I come from, it’s a general idea that girls should get married after 8th grade. I studied on with the help of Preetam sir and Subhankar sir (former members) and now I am pursuing arts.

Prof RK Biswal also interacted with the audience. Talking about his association with the team, he said

I am very satisfied with the work they are doing. Bringing students to the mainstream is the noblest deed we can do.

In the last phase, meritorious students from Aasra’s workplaces were felicitated by the professors.

 

Here is what Hemalatha Alapathi says about her team and their work

Last year we worked extensively on documenting the people who are cannot approach the government officials for certificates. They are mostly in need of disability certificates. After the DSSO (District Social Service Officer) saw our work, he was very impressed. Now there is a committee looking into it. However, we plan on going back and rechecking the entire process. We need more members and mentors for the children. As of now, we want to collaborate with other technical clubs to give more exposure to the students.

We are often engrossed in ourselves, lamenting things we don’t have and regretting things we didn’t do. Very rarely do we look out for those in need. What Aasra does as a club is commendable. Team MM wishes the best of luck to the entire team for all their plans this year.

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