In 2020, AIF quickly pivoted to address the critical situation in India and the United States. In India, AIF leveraged its programs’ infrastructure on health, education, and livelihoods via its wide network to address the needs of the nation with ventilators, PPE, and other interventions in order to save the lives of vulnerable Indians from COVID-19. Read the report here.

In 2021, India recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 COVID-19 infections on April 22nd, as this second wave sent many more into a fragile health care system, critically short of hospital beds and oxygen. Working with our partners, hospitals, and governments, AIF has launched a three-pronged Phase 2 Emergency Response Strategy to address this crisis. Here is an overview.

The American India Foundation is committed to improving the lives of India’s underprivileged, with a special focus on women, children, and youth. AIF does this through high impact interventions in education, health, and livelihoods, because poverty is multidimensional. AIF’s unique value proposition is its broad engagement between communities, civil society, and expertise, thereby building a lasting bridge between the United States and India. With offices in New York and California, twelve chapters across the U.S., and India operations headquartered in Delhi NCR, AIF has impacted 6.7 million lives across 26 states of India.

It is one’s ability, not disability, that defines any individual.

Born with speech and hearing disability, 24-year- old Rahul’s tenacity and determination shone through, once he completed his training and gained employment with Hilton in Bangalore, one of the world’s leading hotel chains. The HR Director singles out Rahul for his positivity and speed on the job. Rahul is one of several youth with disabilities that have benefitted from AIF’s Ability Based Livelihood Empowerment (ABLE) program.

The ABLE program is working to integrate persons with disabilities (PwDs) like Rahul into the workforce in a country where less than two percent of the disabled population is employed. The program is guided by the belief that it is one’s ability, not disability, that defines any individual.

Through AIF’s ABLE program, Rahul learned critical workplace skills and specialized skills in hospitality to prepare him for success at the workplace. The hospitality training is enhanced by foundational workplace readiness skills training, from life skills and time management to workplace ethics.

By providing comprehensive training for persons with disabilities that is custom tailored to align with the local economy’s needs, ABLE equips young persons with disabilities with the skills they need to find gainful employment. The program builds capacity of partner NGOs and develops curricula for skills training and work readiness of persons with disabilities— enabling them to have equal, inclusive and dignified livelihoods. The training component is supplemented by advocacy on inclusive human resource practices within corporates, encouraging them to commit to more job opportunities for persons with disabilities and equal opportunities at work.

The Covid-19 crisis has increased the marginalization of and created further barriers for PwDs. Rahul was fortunate to hold on to his job and be able to support his family back home in Uttar Pradesh by sending them some money to help tide things over. He has just one message for the community. “I want to tell all my deaf friends to please come forward and take support of organizations like AIF and make your career and future bright! Try, try, and try until you succeed,” he says.









As Director of Communications and Advocacy, Rowena Kay Mascarenhas holds the global responsibility for overseeing the development and implementation of AIF’s marketing, communications, and advocacy strategies across the Head Office, Country Office and Regional Offices.

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