ASHA is committed to partnering with institutions that promote American values and encourage leadership through innovation, equity, and freedom of expression. ASHA grant-funded libraries, schools, and hospitals highlight American ideals and practices, spotlight the generosity of the American people, and catalyze collaboration between people in the U.S. and citizens of other countries.  
ASHA Gets New Staff Member

We are happy introduce Ms. Camille Ramasastry to ASHA. Camille will be serving as a Program Administrative Assistant.  She recently completed a BA in International Affairs and Spanish & Latin American Languages, Literature, and Cultures from George Washington University. Her previous work experience includes an internship at Blumont/International Relief and Development, where she supported USAID projects in Syria, West Bank/Gaza, and Pakistan. She also served as an intern at a research organization in Santiago, Chile.  Please join us in welcoming Camille.

Partners Communications Workshop

The Partners Communications Workshop will take place on Thursday, May 9 from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm at 555 12th St NW, Washington, DC. Partners who wish to have a happy hour/meeting with Anne Dix at 5:30, please RSVP

Samaritan's Purse to Cut Ribbon on New Medical Facility

On March 24th Samaritan's Purse cut the ribbon on their new at the outpatient clinic. at the Harpur Memorial Hospital . The facility will improve access to healthcare for 4 million people who live in and around Menoufia, about two hours drive north of Cairo.

USAID/ASHA April Newsletter to Focus on Indigenous and Marginalized Peoples

The next Newsletter will put a spotlight on what our partners are doing to impact indigenous and/or marginalized peoples in the places they work. Please submit your stories and photos with credits and captions by April 25, 2019. Please contact mhillary@usaid should you have questions. We look forward to reading more of your stories.

Upcoming Events

Please remember to send us any events you have coming up as far in advance as you can, particularly events our Administrator or other senior leadership might attend. Please send to or Thank you!
Celebrating the Right of Religious Liberty
Anne Dix, Ph.D.
ASHA Director
E arlier this month gunmen killed 42 worshipers at Christchurch’s central Al Noor Mosque , and seven at the Linwood Mosque. In November of last year, a gunman opened fire on worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In Paris a gunman wounded and killed several people congregated at a Christmas Market. In Cairo, gunmen sprayed bullets on congregants of a Coptic Christian Church. The only thing these acts of terrorism accomplished was bringing needless pain on families and deepening the sense of insecurity worshipers experience when trying to exercise a fundamental human right.
Religious freedom is a cornerstone of American civil rights. Codified in the First Amendment to the Constitution, the right of who and how to worship (or not worship at all), was made clear by the framers of the Constitution, which included Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Quakers, and Roman Catholics. Keenly aware of the origins of the 13 colonies, the men who wrote the Constitution made sure that Congress would make no laws restricting the establishment of a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. This prohibited the governmental promotion of any form of religion, while remaining far-reaching in protecting religious liberty. 
This doesn't mean that the path to protecting religious freedom in the country has not been fraught with challenges. For example, while forms of spirituality contributed to American culture as immigrant communities practicing non-Christian religions made America their homes, significant elements of Native American spirituality, the first ever practiced in the New World, were prohibited by Federal law until 1978 when the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed, enabling tribal communities to recover ancient rituals and languages that had largely gone underground or disappeared in the years prior.
The writers of the Constitution believed religious freedom was essential to ordered liberty and the success of their experiment in self-government. This is why in America, not only is the separation of church and state important, but also tolerance of individual differences and the respect for human dignity.
Sister Mary Irene Fitzgibbon and children at the Foundling
Women have been pivotal in their involvement in faith organizations and filling social gaps In 1869 Sister Mary Irene Fitzgibbon and two Sisters of Charity welcomed their first abandoned infant into their home. In 1870, the state of New York granted them $100,000 to build a home for abandoned children on the Upper East side.
The 1998 the International Religious Freedom Act made religious liberty an official part of United States foreign policy. The United States committed to promote freedom of religion as “a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries” and to “identify and denounce regimes” that engage in persecution on the basis of religion.
This month we put a spotlight on faith-based organizations that are serving beneficiaries from all faiths with the same respect and dedication.

On the Thai/Burma Border the Kwai River Christian Hospital, provides critical services to displaced persons, refugees and transient workers from Burma.   Ocer Campion Jesuit College in northern Uganda has been offering education to women as part of a post–civil war recovery initiative since 2006. In Israel, Hadassah , and Share-Zedek continue to provide medical services to anyone regardless of spiritual affiliation. The stories are not meant to be exclusive of the important work many others do in this area, but to showcase different partners in each issue.    

Here at USAID/ASHA, we recognize that religious freedom helps create the conditions that enable a wide range of actors, both faith-based and secular, to reach out and serve communities in need, regardless of their spiritual practice.  We honor that commitment as we seek to increase diversity among our Partners.  And whether you are spiritually affiliated or secular, ASHA and the beneficiaries you help have faith in your ability to bring hope where it is most needed.

Female students at Ocer Campion Jesuit College observe Fatehr Campion Day

Female students at Ocer Campion Jesuit College observe St. Edmund Campion Day celebrations.
Photo courtesy of Ocer Campion
USAID's Faith and Opportunity Initiatives Office

A small office doing mighty work

U SAID's Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (CFOI) is a resource by which faith based and community based organizations can work with USAID. It also makes USAID staff at headquarters and around the world more cognizant of the connection and synergies between development and community-based and faith based organizations.

Ms. Kirsten Evans is the Director of the CFOI and senior advisor to USAID Administrator Mark Green on global engagement of the faith-based community. Prior to coming to USAID, Ms. Evans was the Chief Operating Officer of Educando by Worldfund , a non-profit organization utilizing public-private partnerships for innovative leadership and professional training of public school teachers in Mexico and Brazil. She's headed up a leading Washington DC-based organization advocating for the protection and preservation of religious minorities in the Middle East, shaping US foreign policy recognizing Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities as victims of genocide under ISIS. Previously, Ms. Evans represented the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in its outreach to national Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Orthodox and Christian communities.

We sat down with her to learn more about what her office does and how it can engage our faith based and other partners--and to get a better understanding of how religious liberty shapes development around the world.

What is the function and mission of USAID’s Faith Based and Community Initiatives Office (FBO)?

The Center for Faith and Opportunities Initiatives exists to serve both the Agency and faith-based and small community initiatives to provide a bridge between these two worlds, making USAID more accessible to those organizations, while educating the Agency on the types of initiatives these communities are undertaking on the ground. We facilitate a "meeting space" between the entities, to help to better respond to the needs of these communities and to better equip them to respond to needs and opportunities within the agency. 
How to they reflect the priorities of the Agency and the Administrator?

Under the leadership of Administrator Mark Green, a new vision has been defined for the Agency coined the Journey to Self-Reliance . Faith-based and community initiatives are critical to this vision because they represent a critical constituency when building capacity in long-term stakeholders within communities we serve. Many of these faith-based or community entities will remain active members of a region’s civil society far longer than USAID may be engaged. By working with local community actors and civil society stakeholders, we aim to help ensure the work we do grows deep roots in the local soil, facilitating a lasting impact. 

Does an organization need to be an organized religion, i.e., Christian, Catholic, Jewish, with a structure (as opposed to loosely organized or non-structured spiritual community) to engage with USAID? 

Most of the organizations we work with have been born from a particular faith- community, but not all. Some are ecumenical or inter-faith in the their nature, knitting together actors from a spectrum of faith traditions, while others do not have a specific faith-identity but are ethnic organizations or local community initiatives. 

How does religious freedom speak to economic development and sustainable development?

Religious freedom helps to safeguard the rights and possibilities of all members of a society to be full participants and contributors in that society. By protecting equal rights for all citizens, no matter ethnicity or religion —including civil and political rights and access to social goods such as education, healthcare, property rights and employment— countries are able to harness the creative and productive energy of all sectors of society. 
Why do you believe in a nation that separates state and religion, we are so invested in religious freedom and that we support it in international forums?
It is precisely because we are a nation that separates state and religion that we are invested in religious freedom internationally. Religious freedom embodies within it a host of other rights; freedom of assembly, freedom of belief, freedom of association, freedom of speech, political representation, just to name a few. Where there is religious freedom, pluralism is possible. Where pluralism is protected, democracy and human rights are more likely to flourish.

To learn more about USAID's Faith and Community Initiatives Office, click HERE .
Baylor School of Nursing in Bangalor, India Simulating Real
Bangalore Baptist Hospital: Serving All, Teaching All
Shelby L. Garner PhD, RN, CNE
Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing

B angalore Baptist Hospital , a USAID ASHA partner since 2015, is a Christian faith-based mission hospital in Bengaluru, India. Rooted in core American values towards the advancement of religious freedom, Bangalore Baptist Hospital was founded by the International Mission Board in 1973 and is now managed by Christian Medical College of Vellore , India.  

The vision of Bangalore Baptist Hospital is “Healing and wholeness in the spirit of Jesus Christ.” The organization provides compassionate holistic care to all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or caste, reaching out to the poor and the disadvantaged to improve their quality of life. The hospital also seeks to develop committed professionals through its multiple quality academic and research programs including nursing, medicine, and allied healthcare. Since its inception, the hospital has grown from 80 beds to 340 beds. A recent grant from USAID/ASHA will help it expand to 440 beds in the next two years. 

Bangalore Baptist Hospital’s Rebekah Ann Naylor School of Nursing (RANSON) has a long standing partnership with Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) in Dallas, Texas. Baylor University is a private Christian University and nationally ranked research institution. Together, these partners collaborated with USAID/ASHA in 2015 to promote public diplomacy through the construction of a Simulation Education and Research Centre for Nursing Excellence in India. The state -of-the-art Simulation Centre opened in July of 2017 and provides increased access to quality higher education for marginalized women, improving nursing education in India. Simulation learning experiences include an assortment of life-like scenarios that represent actual or potential situations designed to improve critical thinking and clinical decision-making skills for nursing students, ultimately improving patient care.
Nursing students practice on simulated patient.
While the center was under construction, Shelby Garner, PhD, RN, CNE, US Organization Project Director and Associate Professor of Nursing at Baylor University LHSON and Leena Raj, PhD(c), RN, Principal of the RANSON introduced simulation education to the nursing faculty at Bangalore Baptist Hospital. Faculty members have become leaders in healthcare simulation in India and they now host simulation workshops in the Centre.

Learning with a simulated patient offers students an opportunity to be ready for what happens in real patient care. Nursing offers opportunities for women to have a meaningful career much in demand in India and around the world.

The US and Indian team of nursing faculty were recently awarded the 2018 Excellence in Educational Research Award for their work in the field of nursing simulation by the Sigma Theta Tau International/Chamberlain College of Nursing Center for Excellence in Nursing Education
“We are blessed with this partnership including nursing education, global health and interdisciplinary research with Bangalore Baptist Hospital and USAID/ASHA,” said Dean Shelley F. Conroy EdD, MS, RN, CNE, Baylor University, LHSON. “Together we believe that nurses have been called to make a difference and we are privileged to work with our colleagues in India in this vital effort to serve populations in need.”

Most recently, USAID/ASHA awarded Baylor University and Bangalore Baptist Hospital a 2017 grant to build a Women’s and Children’s Healthcare and Research Centre, increasing its capacity by adding 100 beds and expanding community outreach. This will increase service delivery to more women and children in Bengaluru, India, build future healthcare leaders, and serve as a setting to implement US evidence-based practices and new innovations in obstetrics, gynecology, neonatology, and pediatrics. New practices include neonatal and pediatric palliative care programs and the infusion of US preventive care. New innovations include the design of mobile technologies to improve healthcare access for women and children who will be actively involved in the co-creation process.

Dr. Naveen Thomas, CEO Bangalore Baptist Hospital and Overseas Institution Project Director, described the profound impact the core value of religious freedom has had on the organization. “Bangalore Baptist Hospital is fortunate to have the support of many faith communities in India and around the world, as we seek to serve all people. This was exemplified when a local man of Muslim faith donated land and a building for the Mother Teresa Rural Hospital to our Christian organization, to serve all people in a rural community predominantly made up of those practicing the Hindu religion. The building was inaugurated by the governor of the state of Karnataka, further exemplifying a community commitment to quality healthcare for all people.
CURE International Helps A Young Woman Walk Away from a Disability
Gloria has gone from a little girl with a disability that undermined her ability to walk to a confident young woman with a bright future.
CURE Puts Young Woman on a Straighter Path
by Joel Witwer, CURE Niger

G loria was three years old when her legs began to bow. Her family didn’t think much of it at first, assuming she’d grow out of it. The curvatures in her legs got worse as she got older. When her family realized it was impeding her ability to walk, they decided to seek professional help.
In Sierra Leone, where Gloria and her family live, medical specialists are few and far between. The family would have to expand their search outside of Sierra Leone to find help for Gloria--an undertaking that would cost them money they didn’t have. 

When Gloria reached her late teens, her parents met some missionaries traveling through Sierra Leone who knew about the CURE hospital in Niger. CURE International  is a Christian  nonprofit organization  based in  New Cumberland, Pennsylvania . It focuses on providing  medical care  to children suffering primarily from  orthopedic  and  neurological conditions and operates hospitals in  Afghanistan Ethiopia Kenya Malawi Niger , the  Philippines Uganda , the  United Arab Emirates,  and  Zambia . The organization also runs specialty programs for  clubfoot  and  hydrocephalus  in an additional 19 countries. The missionaries paid for Gloria and her parents to travel to the CURE facility in Niger.

Gloria arrived at CURE in April of 2017 where surgery was performed to correct her left leg. When she came out of the operating room, her mother saw that her daughter's left leg, now in a cast, was straight, and she began to cry.  

In September of 2018, surgery was performed to correct her right leg. Over the last (nearly) two years, Gloria has spent the majority of her time at CURE Niger, undergoing various procedures, rigorous physical therapy--and she's found her place in the hospital community. Being away from her family is hard. She misses school. Persistent infections have delayed the healing process, which frustrates her. She combats loneliness and physical pain on a regular basis yet perseveres, finding joy in the hospital environment. Gloria dotes on the babies in the ward and relishes creative activities, particularly art. She makes beaded jewelry, dolls out of spoons, and flowers from pipe cleaners. She decorates cookies and creates animal figurines out of sticks. She's made countless friends, and the hospital's staff has been like a family to her.

As Gloria nears the end of her healing process at CURE Niger, she is beginning to look forward to her future back in Sierra Leone. Her excitement grows as she imagines what it will be like to experience life with her healed legs. She can’t wait to go back to school. 
“Now that I’m walking a far distance, I won’t need to pay to take a motorcycle to school. I’ll be able to walk myself!” To see some pictures of Gloria's process click on her picture above.
Saw Myint

Saw Myint has been relying on KRCH since
she was 20 years old. She speaks only Karen, and
having staff that also speaks the language means she
gets better health care.

Healthier Outcomes for All on the Thai/Burma Border
By Laura Curkendall,

W hen 76-year old Saw Myint started having severe back pain, more than usual for a woman of her age, she knew where to go for help. Her whole family relies on the Kwai River Christian Hospital (KRCH) .

Originally from Burma, Myint has been living near the hospital in Huay Malai, on the Thailand side of the Thai-Burma border, since she was 20. She receives care from hospital staff in Karen , her native language, which some staff members speak in addition to Thai.

Pharmacist Sirikanlaya Prakunwiset is one of the Karen-speaking staff members and is proud to note, “It makes them trust me and makes them feel happy to talk with me. If we speak the same language, we can get more accurate information [than if we were using a translator].” When staff can speak directly with patients about symptoms and problems, we can provide better care.

That’s the hallmark of the Kwai River Christian Hospital: high quality, compassionate care for all patients, regardless of where they are from. Founded as a clinic by American Christian missionaries in 1960, and now sponsored by The Church of Christ in Thailand, KRCH is the only hospital for more than 150 miles on either side of the border that has a full-time surgeon. Altogether, the hospital receives about 20,000 visits per year for inpatient and outpatient services. Patients include Thai families from the surrounding area as well as asylum seekers and socioeconomic migrants from Burma.

In the spirit of ensuring high quality care for everyone in the region, the reach of the KRCH goes beyond its current building in Huay Malai. Doctors travel to a clinic about 20 miles away at a border crossing where they screen Burmese patients and can refer them to the main site for advanced care. The patients come from different backgrounds and are of all ages, from newborn babies to the elderly and from a number of ethnic and religious minorities, including a large number from Muslim families, who experience significant persecution in Myanmar.
The new wing of the KRCH will allow for improved services, especially for mothers and babies. Photo: KRCH.
Mother and baby at KRCH.
In acknowledging the recent chaos on the Burma-Bangladesh border, the Kwai River Christian Hospital is noteworthy for its seven decades of welcoming and caring for any and all seeking medical attention. When Karen-speakers and other refugees who live in nearby Ban Don Yang refugee camp need advanced medical support or surgery, they come to KRCH.

Always looking for ways to expand health care and services, KRCH Director and Manager Pranote Buskornreungrat notes that he is in the process of forming partnerships with a hospital in Burma to explore how to better serve families across the border, so they do not need to make the long journey to Huay Malai, especially if they need urgent care.
The crown jewel of the KRCH network is under construction. The modern 59-bed hospital, which has significant financial and technical support from USAID/ASHA, is in the nearby town of Sangkhlabur. The new facility will be the first in 150 miles to have an Intensive Care Unit. Its maternity ward will have a nursery for special needs infants. It will also have equipment to perform minimally invasive surgery.

KRCH staff and patients will benefit from the new facility--and KRCH will continue to provide high-quality care to everyone who needs it. 
Your stories, photos, videos, and news releases are always welcome. We encourage you to contribute to our newsletter and other mechanisms for spreading the good news about ASHA and ASHA partners. Please also send upcoming events as far in the future as possible. Please reach out to Maxine at
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