Story last updated at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27, 2002

Indian fund-raiser to aid women, children
by Carey James
Staff Writer

photo: news
  Photo by Trevor Bice
Leila Moss  
For Kate Moss and her family, the reason to raise money for a Western Indian organization that provides help for women in crisis and their families is obvious.

When Moss went to pick up her daughter, Leila, five months ago, it was the six women who run Action for Self-Reliance, Hope and Awareness (ASHA) who helped arrange her travel, helped her through the legal hoops and most of all, kept track of her daughter's first 18 months while the young girl was living in an orphanage.

"I feel very much directly grateful to them," said Moss, "I have a very amazing little girl who is healthy, bonded, smart and obviously got a lot of love at the orphanage."

Moss is so grateful, in fact, that she, along with Vessels of Hope, has organized a fund-raiser for the organization to be held Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Homer Elks Club. The evening will include a feast of Indian food, sitar and tabla music and a silent auction of Indian scarves and shawls.

Moss said she first became connected with ASHA through her adoption agency. The group of four social workers, a physician and a lawyer, work with women in need, giving them legal and medical aid, shelter, job skills training and other services. In cases where the women can no longer care for their children, the group helps place the children in a foster home and sponsors the children to ensure they get proper care during their stay.

While ASHA isn't an adoption agency, it has helped around 50 children like Leila find homes. Even after placement, the group stays in touch with the adoptive families for five years after the adoption, Moss said.

Founded in 1993, ASHA works with between 100 and 200 new women and their families and provides continued services to several thousand. And it does it all on a budget of less than the cost of a mid-range American car.

"They are all very educated, strong women with a vision," Moss said. "They want to make changes. The situation for women in India is that if people can get an education, it makes a big difference. The women who are educated can go on to do anything, but so many girls don't get educated because the families can't afford uniforms or can't afford not to have their children working, and uneducated women have a hard time."

Moss said it doesn't take much money, from an American perspective, to make changes in the lives of these families. She said she hopes Homer will turn out to support an organization she has seen first-hand is doing incredible things for Indian women and their families.

"It doesn't cost much to make a difference," she said. "The money goes a long way."

Tickets for the dinner are $15 per person, $35 for a family of up to four people. Call 235-4925 for more information. Tickets are on sale at the Old Inlet Bookstore, the Homer Bookstore and Home Sweet Homer.

Since there is limited seating, advance purchase is recommended.