Ashiyana’s Vision: Redefining Child Care Institutions through Restorative Practices

In a captivating presentation, Sachi Maniar, the driving force behind Ashiyana, a Mumbai-based nonprofit, shed light on the transformative power of restorative practices in child care institutions. Maniar’s journey, marked by a profound dedication to social justice, led attendees through the heart of juvenile justice institutions, revealing a renewed vision of healing and transformation.

Maniar began her discourse with a simple yet profound question: “How do we create institutions as places of healing and transformation?” She argued that the answer wasn’t merely in what was being done but rather in how it was being approached. The difference-maker, as she emphasized, lay in the execution, the care, and the human touch that goes beyond bureaucratic procedures.

Ashiyana’s commendable work spans across 14 institutions in three Indian states. They aren’t merely working within the confines of these institutions but are, in essence, redefining their culture. Sachi and her team are creating spaces that prioritize experiences of belonging, caring, and nurturing. These aren’t just words on paper but palpable experiences fostered through various methods – from restorative circles, daily practices, and rituals to music, arts, and workforce readiness programs.

Perhaps the most evocative part of Maniar’s presentation was her emphasis on ‘intentional spaces.’ These spaces, she detailed, were designed to embody feelings of being held, of belonging. They go beyond the traditional approach to child care, infusing a sense of purpose and love into daily practices. The celebration of events, the use of libraries, and the emphasis on arts were highlighted as cornerstones of Ashiyana’s approach.

While many organizations work with vulnerable children, what set Ashiyana apart, as Maniar explained, was their unwavering focus on reshaping perceptions. They work towards fostering an environment that doesn’t just react to negative behavior but proactively supports behavior change. This proactive stance aims to motivate children to redefine their narratives, urging them to weave stories marked by hope and transformation.

Sachi Maniar’s personal journey, as recounted in her presentation, is a testament to her commitment. Her early immersion in social justice initiatives, coupled with training in restorative justice and non-violence, has shaped her perspective. Maniar’s affiliations with notable organizations and programs, including the Oxfam International Youth Partnership Program and Ashoka’s Youth Venture, have further honed her approach to change-making.

Moreover, her diverse experiences, spanning from filmmaking to entrepreneurship, have imbued her with a creative flair that she now applies to Ashiyana’s mission. Maniar’s dedication to the cause was palpable as she spoke of her happiest moments: sitting in circles with the children, empowering them to dream, and fostering positivity.

In conclusion, Sachi Maniar’s presentation on Ashiyana’s vision was a powerful reminder of the potential within every child and the transformative power of holistic care. It underscored the belief that with the right approach, it’s possible to change paths and disrupt systems that perpetuate vulnerability. In the end, attendees were left with a profound understanding of Ashiyana’s mission: to ensure that every child not only achieves the potential they desire but most importantly, the one they deserve.