Nazareth Association for Social Awareness (NASA) is a non-government organization, registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, the Foreign Contribution and Regulation Act, and the Income Tax Exemption Act 12A.
NASA was established in 1980 by a dedicated group of Dalits (considered Untouchables) who had experienced the savage practice of untouchability, debasement, social, economic and other oppression sanctioned by the evil caste system.
This team dedicated themselves to liberating their people, bringing about social and economic justice, and breaking social barriers built upon the caste system.
NASA currently operates in 500 villages, serving about 120,000 Dalits, Adivasis (Tribals) and other less privileged peoples in East Godavari, West Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh state, India.
One day in March 1985, I went to a village near the town of Tuni in the southeast Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to distribute relief aid to the survivors of a major fire. After a day’s work in 145 degrees heat I sat, parched with thirst, in the shade of a tree near a house. I asked the lady of the house to give me a glass of drinking water.
“What is your caste?” she immediately asked. When I replied “I am a Dalit”, she refused to give me water. The reason? I was a Dalit, an Untouchable.
Caste segregates all Indians into upper, lower and untouchable castes. Under this pernicious social pecking order Dalits are defined as polluted, inferior, almost sub-human. In India, according to the ancient Hindu lawmaker Manu all men are not born equal, they are divided by birth and caste. I have been humiliated with the word ‘untouchable’ since childhood. In school I was forbidden to sit beside other children or touch the class water jug.
I had barely recovered from the woman’s insult when two villagers approached. They were Dalits, naked but for loincloths and near-starved. They were nothing like human beings created in His image. I looked into their lifeless eyes. They told me their woes: How they had surrendered their children to upper caste landlords as bonded labourers; how their women were exploited and abused; how Dalits were barred from the public well and the temple; how Dalit customers in tea shops had to drink outside, from separate glasses to other customers.
I instantly realized that I need to work for the liberation of the Dalits and other deprived brethren without basic needs like drinking water, medical facilities, homes, roads, hygiene and protection for their children from exploitation by the rich and the upper castes.
Please also join your hands to reach the unreached and touch the untouched.
NASA has been able to:
- Help construct over 12,000 permanent houses for Dalits and tribal people living in huts.
- Acquire and develop more than 22,000 acres of land for landless Dalits and tribals.
- Motivate so-called Untouchable people to break the shackles of caste. Today Dalits are entering hotels and questioning upper caste authority.
- Construct 32 houses for 120 lepers who were living and dying on the streets. NASA provides monthly support to save them from starvation and liberate them from begging.
- Provide support to 300 AIDS victims to save them from starvation.
- Help thousands of Cyclone, Flood, Fire and Tsunami victims by providing Relief and Rehabilitation.
- Relieve thousands of Dalit children from the bonded labour (Paleru) system. In 1985, less than ten percent of Dalit children in remote villages went to school, but today seventy percent do.
- Care for 500 orphans/destitute children in the Light of Love Children’s Home run by NASA saving them from begging and exploitation.
- Assist many young people through College and University by paying for fees and books.
- Help women escape sexual exploitation by enabling them to start women’s federations and save a total of 20 million rupees to liberate themselves from exploitation and money lenders.
If you are inspired and would like to share in this work through NASA, please get in touch with us