About SWF

Run by Shri Saisidh Baba Balaknath Mandir, the Asian Women's Foundation supports Asian women some of whom are experiencing multiple deprivation. The objectives are: to inform, organise advise and involve Asian women in Bedfordshire on the issues which affect them; to provide safe, confidential and supporting service for Asian Women who are victims of domestic violence and mental harassment.

About The Founder

Mrs Santosh Kumari began her work about 1970, after arriving in Bedford in 1969. The AWF was formed in 1998 (her son, a Race Equality officer, came up with the name). At that time, she had a big problem with someone and sorting out her poll tax on the big building; so she sought the assistance of Cllr Liz White, who introduced her to John Wright. In the early days, though, the name was originally 'Ashram' – a Hindi word meaning, 'Refuge for Women'. At this time, Santosh saw herself as doing 'community work'. She implemented the expansion of the Ashram, through conversing with the women, and by helping them to become strong.

Santosh's humble beginnings were in India. She lived with her grandparents, as her parents lived in Kenya. She had a separate room and even then, women would come and talk to her. At 16, she discovered her Hindu faith and would often be asked by the women she counselled, to pray for them. Given her independence and, more importantly, her own space, Santosh was able to form a growing recognition for her abilities and practising her faith.

The solitude and independence had taught Santosh two very important lessons in life: Be yourself – You are all individuals; Believe in yourself – You need this, in order to be strong on the inside.

"We have to do something, but don't make an enemy of our problems. Respect others, and befriend – not berate. There is only one blood. Love is God. If you don't one another, it is no good." - Santosh Kumari