In the "Janata Vasahat" slum of Pune, as in many parts of India, girls from the lowest levels of society face countless obstacles to gaining an education.  Financial straits force children out of school and into labour at an early age, or in best cases their parents cannot afford the necessary classes and educational materials.  Lacking an education means the girl is without prospects.  Parents, uneducated themselves, then feel their daughters as a financial burden, meaning that they are married prematurely, often without choice, becoming virtual slaves to their circumstances, if not to their new 'family', and soon find themselves mothers to children who will experience the same cycle as themselves.

In the above video interview, Minal Dani describes the barriers that girls in the slums face (video provided by GSD Network)
In 1993, a local resident of Pune, Minal Dani, co-founded ASHA (Action for Self-reliance, Hope, and Awareness) to address the desperate plight of women in the Pune slums.  After many years of tireless effort, Minal came to realize a single commonality amongst all these women, -a lack of education.  This factor was the primary reason for their lack of opportunities, leading to their present plights.  Minal realized that the ultimate solution was to work with these women's daughters, to keep them in school and help them gain an education, as the only means to stop the cycle of despair.  But she encountered the same financial barrier that the girls' parents faced.  Government schools are free, but also inadequate, and academic success for all students requires private classes.  Even school supplies would be an overwhelming cost for the large number of girls.  This is where OSI became involved.


Starting in 2008, OSI sponsorship took Minal's concept a quantum-leap forward by providing a consistent and substantial means of support for individual girls in the community.  OSI sponsors provide the means for each girl to be enrolled in private classes, receive medical care and counselling, and supplemental nutrition.  Via sponsorship and her own hard work, she is able to gain an education, as far as her capabilities will take her, all the way through college or vocational training, to a career of her own choosing, with control over her own destiny.  In addition, OSI's program site sponsor (see below) provides the means for Minal and the small ASHA staff to work directly with each child and her family on a full-time basis,
Since we began in 2008, most of our 'graduates' have obtained or are studying towards bachelor's degrees, in fields such as engineering, IT, accounting, nursing, and fashion design, with some having obtained master's.  Many of our eldest have achieved financial independence with professional careers, and are supporting their families.  Even those who are studying towards degrees simultaneously work respectable part-time jobs which earn more than their parents working full-time as domestic servants or labourers.
providing counselling (to the girl and her parents), coordinating health care, and advocating the girl's education by monitoring each girl's progress and academic need, liaising with each girl's school/teachers, and coordinating each step of her educational progress, with expertise on all of the resources and educational options available in Pune.
Visit ASHA's Facebook page...
Commentary - Some thoughts on the achievements of our remarkable Pune girls, as well as unforeseen benefits lately being observed in their neighbourhood...

Janata Vasahat

Janata Vasahat is an impoverished slum community located on the slopes of Parvati, -a prominent hill in Pune crowned with an ancient temple.  It is an extensive, sprawling community of shanties, inhabited mostly by migrants from rural areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka states, who have come to the city in search of opportunity.

The "original" or "legal" homes in the slum are simple masonry, tin-roofed constructions of one or two rooms, registered with the Pune Municipality, and provided with a water tap and electricity.  However, many homes in Janata Vasahat are "illegal" shanties, rudimentary constructions of tin or other materials, prone to conflicts with the municipality, and without the infrastructure benefits of the legal homes.  This is the result of a growing number of migrants to the community, destitute of the means for legal housing. 

Janata Vasahat has it's own charity-run hospital as well as private physicians.  Conversely, desperation of many residents means that there are anti-social elements in Janata Vasahat, -gang fighting, gambling, production/selling of black-market liquor, domestic violence, early marriage, child labour, etc.  Alcoholism, and the domestic abuse that usually accompanies it, is rampant.

Adults in the community are largely illiterate or with minimal education.  Most men in the community work in unskilled jobs or as labourers, while women work mostly as domestic servants in homes nearby.  Employment/income is unstable and minimal, with family incomes typically ranging between US $80-$200 /month.

Most young children study in the local Marathi language at government schools within walking distance of Janata Vasahat.  A few of our children who have migrated from distant regions study in Urdu language schools and have to travel through the city to reach these.  Beyond elementary school, colleges and higher education institutions are particularly abundant in Pune, and completing/passing grade school is all that is necessary for our girls to have access to these.


All is not struggle and study!  Truly one of the most important things OSI does is to provide fun and educational excursions for our Janata Vasahat children as frequently as possible.  Their childhoods are largely devoid of happy and fun memories, and the kindness of OSI donors helps us to compensate for that.  Getting these girls away from their studies, out of their slum environment and out of the city... we often see a completely different side of their personalities, -or rather their real personalities shine through, as they are free for a day to just be children.  Below are links to excursions that we have provided for our Pune children.
Ashram Tours
19 November 2023
Educational & Social Service Excursion...
Mauli Resort
10 June 2023
School holiday escape from the summertime heat...
6 November 2022
Countryside hike and farm...
Yavat Agro Resort
2 June 2022
Our first post-COVID excursion...
Orchard Resort
19 January 2020
Pre-exam excursion to an amusement and waterpark...
Hotel Conrad Career Tour
13 July 2019
Informational tour on careers in the hotel industry...
Seema Farms
6 January 2019
New year countryside excursion...
Armed Forces Medical College
23 June 2018
Inspirational academic day-trip for the beginning of the school year...
4 February 2018
Pre-exam day-trip to lakeside Shantivan leisure park...
Morachi Chincholi
22 January 2017
Another rural excursion with lots of fun activities...
Orchard Resort
14 April 2016
Fun day trip to an amusement and water park...
Bhimashankar & Shivneri Fort
31 January 2016
Another scenic and educational pre-exam day trip...
25 April 2015
Scenic, fun, and educational day trip...
Konkan Kanya
18 January 2015
A day on the farm...
27 January 2013
Fun and educational excursion to scenic Mahabaleshwar region...
Chincholi Morachi
14 October 2012
Educational and pastoral excursion to rural Chincholi Morachi...
15 January 2012
Sankranti celebrated at Saras Baug Park...
Theater and Katraj Snake Park
3 & 24 December 2011
Year-end excursions to the theater and zoo...
23 April 2011
Excursion to Mumbai...
Saras Baug Park
27 February 2011
Recreation and picnic in one of Pune's most beautiful parks...
Niwara Elder's Home
30 January 2011
Social Awareness visit to Niwara Elder's Home...
13 November 2010
A fun hike to an important historical site...
Pune Educational Excursion
24 April 2010
Educational tour of Pune historical sites...
Sanskruti Culture Park
21 February 2010
Fun and educational day-trip to Sanskruti Culture Park...


Program Site Sponsor

Alok Pandya (USA)
Alok is a successful young entrepeneur who early in his career felt a desire to use his business success to impact the lives of disadvantaged children.  "It's the lives you impact and make better that really matters in this world." -Alok  OSI and our children are fortunate that Alok has chosen to make this difference with us.

Program Manager

Minal Dani and ASHA (India)
Minal is voluntary Founder and Director of "ASHA", an effort to address violence and injustice against women in Pune.  Minal and the ASHA staff work tirelessly, full time on the ground to achieve our mutual goals for our Pune children.

Program Liaison

Nick M. Hindman
Resident in nearby Sri Lanka, OSI president/founder Nick M. Hindman also serves as voluntary communicative liaison for our India program.


Pune (pronounced poo-nay) is located about 160 km southeast of Mumbai, in Maharashtra state.  With a population of nearly 6 million, Pune is the 7th most populous city in India.  Pune's nine universities and many more academic institutes provide an education that feeds the city's growing industrial and IT sectors.  Pune is important culturally as well, and many temples and structures outline Pune's important historical role, from ancient times to the British Raj to Gandhi's residence and the struggle for Indian independence.  At an elevation of 560 meters, Pune has a mild climate year-round.
Pune - Wikipedia has a particularly excellent, accurate, and comprehensive article on Pune in general...

Time & Weather in Pune

Other OSI Program Sites

2001 -
OSI-Sri Lanka
2006 -
1999 - 2013