Asha Bhavan Centre

18 February 2011

Today we travelled to the Asha Bhavan Centre, a home, school and rehabilitation centre for children with disabilities about 45km outside Calcutta. It is yet another of Dominique Lapierre’s great ventures to help the suffering of those in poverty. The visit started with the children greeting us with garlands of flowers and we were invited to have some tea before the tour of the centre. We briefly met some of the children whilst they were enjoying lessons and saw physiotherapists helping to increase children’s mobility and independence.

There’s an impressive and very creative new school building currently under construction which will be fully adapted to the needs of the children and linked to the existing building by an aerial walkway. It’s circular with a ramp spiralling gently round the interior, eliminating the need for stairs. The curved classrooms will allow teachers and therapists a good view of all the children and maximum use of available space. Only the fourth floor, which will be used for staff resources, administration and training will be accessed by low tread stairs. It really is an amazing project, worthy of a ‘Grand Designs’ TV programme to itself. It should be completed by the autumn.

After this we were all shown a video depicting all the work that the Asha Bhavan Centre does, not only on site but in the local communities. This was a real eye-opener for all of us.

After some delicious lunch the children danced and sang for us, which was absolutely fantastic; Joe sang a couple of songs and Shaunagh performed some Irish dancing for the children. After that the boys all played a game of football during which the girls played with the children as they watched the game. The children thoroughly enjoyed our company. After the game we had some tea before we sadly had to leave the children and the wonderful staff that are all so warm and welcoming, they are clearly committed to Asha Bhavan and its philosophy of helping children with disabilities to gain greater independence and confidence. At the end of the day we all left with a strong attachment to Asha Bhavan and we all hope it won’t be long before we will be able to come again.

Watch Joe’s performance here:

Tomorrow we are taking to the streets to assist Udayan’s 2 mile march to help raise awareness of the plight of leprosy sufferers. After the march we’ll have a city tour of the sights of Calcutta which should provide us with plenty to tell you about tomorrow.

Finally we would like to wish all those from schools in the UK who are about to start half-term, have a lovely week off and we look forward to reading more of your comments. We would also like to thank St John’s Primary School, Rickmansworth, for their continued moral support throughout our very spiritual and life-changing journey. We hope many of you will continue to keep up to date whilst away from school!


James and Erin

@ 2954 days ago

Hi everyone sounds like an amazing trip! Well done Shaunagh for bringing a little bit of Ireland with you, we are very proud of you!
Love and hugs,
James, Erin, Seamus & Bernie. XXXX

Ann Palmer

@ 2954 days ago

Hi all, the last two days sound like you have all had a very uplifting and moving experience.

Jamie, Uncle Charles says he is looking forward to sharing his Kolkata memories with you and wants to remind you to avoid eating Chinese crab!

Enjoy the march tomorrow,

Best wishes to you all xxx

christine bernie

@ 2954 days ago

hello everyone just to say enjoy the march tomorrow lots of love, christine xx


@ 2954 days ago

Hellooooo shaunagh! hows India treating ya? having fun out there? Ive moved into your house btw… sitting in your lounge right now writing this haha so when your back you’ll have to find a new place! sorry! much love pedro xx

John and Pam

@ 2954 days ago

We are glad that you found Veranasi, Udayan and Asha Bhavan as inspiring as we did…. they were the highlights for us. We trust that one of the young men eschewed a daily shave in anticipation of a public barber experience in the covered market near the Fairlawn. John and Pam

Rebecca Wharton

@ 2953 days ago

Hope you are all having a great time..just saw the clip of Joe singing he and Katy sound amazing ;) and just wanted to say I miss you!
Only one week left so make sure you enjoy yourself, Glenda and me are waiting here to take you for a McDonalds!
Oh and give Sabina a big hug from me :) xxx

Jeanette Dunlop

@ 2952 days ago

Hello Joseph, well done lovely song. Following your journey with you looks amazing. See you soon
love Auntie Jeanette X