About Aastha

Aastha is a Non-Profit voluntary organization registered under Societies Regn. Act in 2010 for the purpose of providing compassionate service to the mentally challenged , disabled, autistic and under-privileged.

Aastha started off from a small rented house in Kasarwada, Mapusa and subsequently relocated to the current premises to cater to the growing numbers of enrollment.

Keeping the Holistic development in mind SIDDHAM, a vocational centre was started in 2014 to provide vocational and life skills.

Physiotherapy Unit, Speech Therapy Centre, Better classrooms, Play areas and overall facilities were set up in the premises.

Aastha has an ambitious growth plan chalked out to be the organization that provides comprehensive services for people with special needs under one roof.

Be a Volunteer

Aastha is proud of its Volunteer program where students and professionals work full-time in the school for stipulated period of time between one to six months.Volunteers symbolize the spirit of generosity and compassion, and many of our programmes would not be successful without the time and talents of our dedicated volunteers.

They perform a variety of writing and research-oriented projects in addition to having the opportunity to see and work directly with Goa’s most vulnerable differently abled population. Volunteers in the past have worked with teachers, staff in creating teaching modules, home visits for specific special cases, organising events/campaigns for the school supporting Fun, Learning and Awareness Initiatives.

At Astha volunteers not only gain a meaningful experience working with a Non-Governmental Organization, but they also get to experience living the life of a special child, understand their difficulties, and their small triumphs in learning to live a better life.

Volunteering programme helps address our organization’s needs and strengthen the impact of our work.

If you are interested in Volunteering at Aastha. Please fill out the following form:

Join us as a Volunteer

Our volunteers find their experiences at Astha to be very rewarding and listed below are few of their experiences first-hand.

The time I spent with the children in class and during tiffin time, having fun with zumba, making flowers at daycare and clapping and singing songs on the school bus ride home was truly unforgettable. I may only have spent nine days volunteering, but the lessons learnt and memories made will last me a lifetime. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the teachers and students at Aastha Anand Niketan School, for an experience I will treasure forever.

Amelie Ho, Australia
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My training experience with Aastha has really been good . The teachers and other working staff are really nice, friendly and helpful .The staff and students have a great time together along with constant focus on learning and therapy

An Unforgettable Nine Days Volunteering at Aastha Anand Niketan School
Written by Amelie Ho

On November 27 2019, I started nine days of volunteering at Aastha Anand Niketan School with the intention of doing my best to help their special children. However, I realised by the end of the first day that these children and their teachers would be giving me so much more than I could possibly give them. My name is Amelie, and I’ve just completed my second year of medical studies in Australia. A year ago I sat down for breakfast with my friend Kashvi, who had just returned from over two weeks spent with the children at Anand Niketan and Sanjay School. She was filled with gratitude for her experience and spoke with so much love, I felt inspired to visit for myself!

From the moment I stepped through the gate, Anand Niketan felt like a community. My worries about not speaking the local language and not feeling qualified to look after children with special needs were calmed by the warm and joyful way I was welcomed.

Each classroom at the school is made up of around five to seven students and a teacher. Between 8 am and 1 pm, they have a timetable based on academics, activities of daily living, fine motor skills, physical education, sensory play, and mealtime. The older students also focus on vocational skills, such as flower-making and file creation. Daycare activities take place until 4 pm, during which the children get the chance to practice dances, paint designs on cloth bags, and play the drums!

Everyday at Anand Niketan is different, and filled with many fun activities! I remember the gorgeous girls teaching me how to make flowers, which people ordered (and at the end of the year the school distributes the profit between all the students involved, how wonderful is that!). I remember painting and laughing with the students as they joked with each other, and taught me the Konkani word for ‘beautiful’: boredista, which I think I will use instead of the English word from now on.

I remember feeling awed by how much love, care and passion goes into helping the students thrive. The teachers focus on each student’s individual learning needs, and tailor their teaching to best help them. For example, there was a boy with autism who sometimes became hyperactive and would bang his head repeatedly on the wall, potentially hurting himself in the process. To protect him and create a space where he could learn, the school positioned a strong desk in the corner, built a lock on it, and cushioned the walls around him. For another young boy who was non-verbal and very responsive to sensory play, his teacher made a special bottle filled with liquid and glitter that the boy absolutely loved, and it calmed him down when he was hyperactive. One afternoon, a special tea party involving the most delicious onion bhaji was organised for all the students, and the best part was that it too became a learning experience for them as the students got to be involved in the preparation and serving of food and tea! All of these examples may sound like simple actions when written down and spoken about, but they make a world of difference. I saw the students flourish under the special attention given to them by their teachers.

The students at Anand Niketan truly are the core of the school, and during these nine days they stole my heart. Even though I only knew about three phrases in Konkani, I still got the chance to help out in the classrooms. I clearly remember teaching one determined, sweet young girl how to write her uppercase letters. We practised writing ‘G’, ‘H’ and ‘I’, and anytime she made a little mistake and I showed her how to write the letter, she would use her eraser and simply try again. She inspired me through her persistence and a willingness to do her best. The next day was spent in a classroom with another beautiful, determined and intelligent young girl who was practising her counting. I drew out little symbols that she counted with so much concentration, and then wrote down the number. After every correct answer, she would turn to me with a big smile and give me an enthusiastic high-five. She inspired me with the joy she had for learning. On my second-last day at school, I sat with a boy who was learning his shapes using different-coloured blocks. We made a game out of it, which involved him guessing which hand the block was in and then telling me the shape. When his classmate started joining in, he happily let her. He taught me that learning could be so much fun, and even more so when shared with a friend.

Over these nine days, I learnt some important lessons about special children, about community and about love, which I will hold close to me throughout my life. The first lesson I learnt: Children who are differently-abled are just like all children. They are immensely capable and determined to do their best and make people happy. They thrive under encouragement, when surrounded by friends, through playing and learning. Most of all, they have so much love to give. Secondly, I learnt that a group of people who come together and work towards a shared vision and passion are truly powerful. The teachers should be commended for going above and beyond simply teaching, as well as the board of directors who lead on a volunteer basis. I also learnt that spoken language is so important for communication, but beyond that, love and care can be conveyed in other ways too- a smile, a gentle touch, an interested expression or a patiently taught lesson. Lastly, I learnt the importance of community. The school places so much value on togetherness- the routine of ‘tiffin time’ involving all students eating together and sharing bread, making flowers and files together during daycare, prayer time, dance time, singing time and joyful birthday celebrations (involving feeding each other cake!). As individuals, we are strong and capable, but together, we can do anything.

The school may not have a wealth of fancy technology or disposable amounts of learning resources (which I was used to seeing in Australian schools)- but they sure do make the most of what they have. Everything is utilised so creatively, such as a handmade cardboard device to teach the students how to fold shirts, or handmade flashcards to teach the students the alphabet and numbers. Furthermore, donated items such as stationery, books and sensory toys are greatly utilised and appreciated. It is my hope that the local and overseas community will come together to support this special school, so that they can thrive for years to come. The family that has been created at Anand Niketan School is special and needs to be treasured and supported in their mission to help differently-abled children reach their fullest potential.

The time I spent with the children in class and during tiffin time, having fun with zumba, making flowers at daycare and clapping and singing songs on the school bus ride home was truly unforgettable. I may only have spent nine days volunteering, but the lessons learnt and memories made will last me a lifetime. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the teachers and students at Aastha Anand Niketan School, for an experience I will treasure forever.

Be a Partner

Partnership between an NGO and Businesses or High Network Individual is a two way street. Businesses/Enterprises can improve their social and environmental performance and find new market opportunities through partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The knowledge, expertise and capabilities of NGOs and corporations are different but complementary. Together, NGOs and companies often accomplish more than they could alone.

Aastha, looks forward and calls out to business houses, individuals for such mutually beneficial and enriching partnerships. Do Come Forward, Tell a Story, Paint a Picture, Sing a Song, Groove to the Beat, Teach an Instrument and above all just giggle and laugh together.

Organise and Sponsor their Picnics, Outings, Parties, Competitions. Help us organize, exhibit and retail their handmade items.

Partner with our kids to be their mentor. Let them be your shadow and see life through YOU.

Disability Awareness Calendar

4th January World Braille Day
21st March World Down Syndrome Day
26th March Purple Day for Epilepsy
March Cerebral Palsy Awareness month
2nd April World Autism day
May Mental Health Awareness Month
14th July Disability Awareness Day
6th October World Cerebral Palsy Day
10th October World Mental Health Day
3rd December International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Festivities at Anand Niketan School

-- Gurupoornima
-- Naagpanchami
-- Gokulshtami
-- Rakshabandhan
-- Ganesh Chathurthi
-- Saraswati Puja
-- Diwali Celebration
-- Christmas Celebration
-- Holi Celebration
5th September Teachers day
14th November Children’s day
2nd October Gandhi Jayanti
15th December Aastha’s Founders Day

Days of National Importance at Anand Niketan

15th August Independence Day
19th December Goa Liberation Day
26th January Republic Day

Be a Partner

Managing Committee

Softspoken entrepreneur in the field of building construction & allied activities. Aastha leverages his team management & execution skills to the maximum.

Mr. Siddhesh Kotkar

Chairman

A Civil Engineer by profession & qualification, he is a down to earth, hardworking & successful businessman from the construction industry. Our go to man for all infra related matters.

Mr. Deepak Govekar

Vice Chairman

Respected in the field of Real Estate development, this Senior Engineer has been with Aastha since beginning and has been our pillar for infra administration & maintenance matters. Loves gardening & organic farming.

Mr. Sudhir Revonkar

Vice Chairman

A Radiologist by profession based in Mapusa is true to Goa vibes with passion for Sports and Music and is an ardent fan of Jagjit Singh. He strongly believes in the song Mai Pal do Pal ka shayar..hu..Pal do pal meri kahani hai..and lives by it. His commitment to a cause that he picks up is unwavering.

Dr. Chandrashekhar Kelkar

Secretary

Soft spoken Gentleman to the core his culinary skill and commitment to social causes are both exemplary. Any and Every Task assigned gets his full dedication and with a penchant for perfection the results are always more than what was desired. His Humility and Humane touch make him affable to all.

Mr. Rajesh Khedekar

Jt. Secretary

Chartered accountant by profession, he is integral part of the core team and has been the force behind the transparent & meticulous handling of resources & funds at Aastha.

Mr. Rahul Mhambrey

Treasurer

A strong pillar of Aastha since it's inception is a post graduate in commerce, an ex banker and has almost 2 decades of experience in running educational institutions in Goa. He is an active member of various socio-cultural organisations. He is currently the President of Association of All Goa Govt. Recognised Unaided Schools.

Mr. Vijay Shetti

Jt. Treasurer

The chairman is a leader par excellence who accepts challenges that otherwise appear unsurmountable, conquers them and moves on to the next regardless of his past laurels. Also the current Chairman of Sanjay School Group of institutions, he has transformed Special Education in Goa through his Vision and determined execution. His work in this field bestowed him the honor of being invited for the Zero Project Conference in Feb 2020 in Vienna on inclusive Education for the Disabled. He has contributed immensely to the society through his leadership stints at various other social organisations.

Mr. Guruprasad Pawaskar

Member

Retired Principal of Walawalkar HSS, he is the current President of Goa Marathi Academy. Renowned and well respected National Award winning Teacher, he has interests in Marathi Literature, Spirituality, Innovative teaching & Personality building methods. Multi talented personality as a writer, lyricist, composer & orator par excellence, he was instrumental in conceptualizing Aastha and continues to be a strong catalyst in its noble work towards the special kids of Goa.

Mr. Anil Gajanan Samant

Member

Dr. Ajit Mopkar has been associated with Aastha right from it's inception. His passion for social work got him involved actively in all Projects and Programs running in Aastha. Ajit Mopkar is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist by profession who is known amongst his patients & colleagues as a chirpy, humourous and kind human being. An alumni of GMC and an active member of various medical organisations like IMA, POGS and APNH, started Ankur Nursing Home, Women's Hospital in 2001. Dr. Ajit Mopkar continues to be a guiding force in all of Aastha's efforts.

Dr. Ajit Mopkar

Member

A senior and experienced legal luminary. Sir is an active and prominent member of many Socio Cultural Organizations. He has been a guiding force behind the work at Aastha since it's inception.

Adv. Avadhut Salatry

Member

A Gentleman by nature, this individual has his own Real Estate and Construction Company. An avid artist with excellent drumming, mimicry and dancing skills. His light hearted and smiling nature keeps everyone on their toes at work and in best of spirits.

Mr. Dipesh Makadia

Member

Renowned Orthopaedic Surgeon, has experience in the field of Education. A passionate photographer who is also known in social circles for his upright views and trustworthy nature.

Dr. Harish Tople

Member

An entrepreneur from the Food processing and distribution industry, attention to detail and meticulous planning is what he brings to team Aastha.

Mr. Rupesh Gauns

Member

A man who believes in Simple Living and High Thinking, Kulkarni Sir is a industrialist with manufacturing experience of more than 5 decades. His path breaking work as a Rotarian has been instrumental in giving Jaipur foot to thousands of individuals from Goa and surrounding areas of Mahrashtra and Karnataka and he continues to guide us.

Mr. Manguesh Kulkarni

Member

With little or no knowledge in the field of Special Education, she voluntarily accepted the challenge of being the administrator of the school and with her keenness and dedication to learn has effectively led the school and the staff to its present stage. She is the bridge between the management & the staff and helps in the smooth running of the day-to-day activities of Aastha and Anand Niketan.

Mrs. Vrinda Moye

Member

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