A globe, focused on the Western Hemisphere.

Davis United World College Scholars


Back to Stories Worth Telling

A Commitment to the Most Vulnerable Kids

There 18 million street children in India. There are six young women from six different nations on the board of the Ashraya Initiative for Children, a nonprofit that three of them started after working with kids at Mahindra UWC in India.

“At some point you’re going to realize that it’s worth giving somebody else a chance, because you got one,” observed Davis UWC Scholar Julia Neubauer (Austria, Mahindra UWC, Princeton ’07). Julia cofounded the initiative (in Hindi, ashraya means “hope,” “trust,” “shelter,” and “protection”) with fellow Mahindra grads Elizabeth Sholtys, from America, and Kaminika Morjaria of England and India, who studied at the London School of Economics.

At Mahindra, the three resolved to come back to India to work again with kids. They’d moved on to college when Liz Sholtys e-mailed the others and asked, ”Why not now?”  They both said, "We're in."

In June 2005 they christened the new organization in Pune, which rented an apartment that was the full-time home to nine children and two live-in caregivers, and instituted an outreach effort to provide for the education, medical, and other needs of more children.

Each of the original board members — joined by Jasleen Anand of Canada, Asami Matsumoto of Japan, and Amber Wang of the United States — committed to spending time working in Pune with the children.

“We really want to assure donors that we consider these kids as our kids — and we take responsibility for them,” Julia said.

Julia holds a degree in economics and political economy from Princeton University. She spent two years working as a financial analyst for the Princeton University Investment Company, where she focused on international equity and real assets investments. Julia left her full-time job at Princeton in July 2009 and moved to Pune to spend time running AIC’s programs on the ground.