A commitment to justice and dignity for all


In a recent interview Beth Ashbridge, one of AzuKo's major donors, talks about her yearning for enlightenment, her deep family ties with public interest design (PID) and... her connection to pear trees.

At AzuKo, we look to shape a family around the work that we do. We believe it's crucial for the health of our craft, ourselves and those we serve.

Beth speaks of the care she has for AzuKo's work - the care of a sister - and why it's important that she is vested in it. She shows why support for AzuKo is a voice to the voiceless and a commitment to justice and dignity for all people and all generations.

(From New York by way of Newcastle)

  • Beth, tell us a little bit about yourself...

I am a Novocastrian 30-something chocophile who plays a spot of tennis now and then. A scientist by trade, I now work in the field of pharmaceutical patent law litigation in New York City. I currently live in Harlem and enjoy jogging around Central Park, primarily for the purposes of people-watching. New Yorkers are a fascinating species.

  • What is it about your experience and your life that has inspired you to give back?

I have led a privileged and protected life. I have been given every opportunity by my parents to develop knowledge, travel to other countries and cities, try new things and meet so many wonderful people. I don't have an 'aha' moment per se, I just have a sense of fortune and love and I want to pay it forward. Giving money to a cause that directly impacts the comfort and ease of others is one way to thank the universe for a life loved.

  • How would you describe your personal mission?

To learn as much as I can. Live as fully as I can. And be there for others in any way I can.

  • What do you believe would most disrupt the challenges associated with poverty? And why is AzuKo the right organisation to do that?

I am not at all in this field of expertise but it seems like putting a spotlight on issues that perhaps do not make for 'good media' or are not 'social media worthy' are key...

Working out how to humanise a problem is always going to be challenging and so an organisation like AzuKo is here to champion the communities who do not get the recognition they need to make real change in their daily lives. By facilitating development and change from within, AzuKo offers a sustainable way to improve the human condition.


  • What is meaningful to you about donating to AzuKo?

Jo is my favourite and only sister. I have seen firsthand how tirelessly she works to do the most with every penny she receives in donations. Her determination and dedication towards impacting people's lives is inspirational. This is the easiest donation I have ever made and will continue to make going forward.

  • What would you like to pass on to future generations?

You only live once. So live every day to its fullest. And be kind.

  • What makes you hopeful and happy?

When I see a kind gesture on the subway or while I am wandering through the world, I am reminded that human kindness is all around us and that small gestures are happening all the time between friends and strangers without fanfare or expectation. I believe that these little and large kindnesses far outweigh the evil in the world, and that makes me hopeful and blissfully happy.

  • Fun one... If you were a tree, what species would you be? And why?

A pear tree. It feels classically British. Pear trees tend to live together in orchards, happily supporting one another and feeding their human neighbours with sugary sandy goodness.


If Beth's generosity has inspired you to give, please get in touch or visit our donate page >>

We look forward to welcoming you to the AzuKo family.

An inconvenient truth - urgency & cause for hope

From the outset of the flood, our local partners responded to what the IFRC called "one of the most serious humanitarian crises this region has seen in many years". You are almost certainly thinking of the tragic flooding that took place in Houston, which was widely featured on mainstream media.

The flood we were responding to however, dominated the Indian subcontinent for nearly a week, even before the rain in Texas began - a flood that has affected more than 41 million people across Bangladesh, India and Nepal. An area roughly the size of the UK was underwater.

Monsoon floods have affected millions in south Asia. But the world is still ignoring disasters that are happening more often and becoming more severe.
— The Guardian

In a moment of respite our Project Manager from SAFE, Apu Roy, was able to interview residents of Jogen Babu Maath slum in northwest Bangladesh about their experience during the disaster. One man recalled the shock and speed of the rising floodwaters,

... we did not have time to bring our clothes outside. When we saw how fast the water was coming into the rooms we started to pack our emergency stuff... during this time our JBM committee was helping people out. They tried to go to every house to ask if anyone needed help. They helped bring the children, the old and disabled people.

I saw the water coming to my house very fast and making very big sounds. After a few minutes, the water was about 6ft high. Then I heard people starting to cry...
Interview with resident

Such events are intimately linked with climate change. These 'Black Swans' not only cause intense suffering and loss, but the long-term implications are felt far beyond. In Bangladesh, there is concern about food shortages and spread of disease in the coming months, as well as severe knock-on effects to the rice harvest and livelihoods over the coming year.

One woman we spoke with said she had never experienced anything like it,

... it took me more than 25 years to make my family self-dependent, but everything is gone and now I’m thinking how we can recover.

Another resident talked of the conditions in JBM, the aftermath and growing concerns,

In JBM, there are more than 7,000 people and now they are homeless... they are on the road, watching the destruction of the flood.

The water rose very high - at the danger line... they don’t have any place to live, no food, no clothes and no drinking water. I gave them some money - what I had at the time. I tried to communicate with the local primary school and the local high school for the victims to stay.

In the face of such adversity we appreciate the heroism, resiliency and care shown by our team on the ground, and the community committee in JBM. Our collective response, thus far, has led to the decontamination of 47 tubewells, the repair and opening of our recently completed WASH facility, and disinfection of people's homes and belongings.

With your help, we've been able to act swiftly and effectively to ensure access to clean drinking water and sanitation, as well as reduce the potential spread of disease - thank you

We know there is still much work to be done. Upcoming challenges include drainage, house repairs / rebuilding and road surfacing. If you would like to contribute to the further recovery of Jogen Babu Maath, please donate here >>


Author: N. Ardaiz