Students enjoy PROMO trip to Mumbai

At the end of the Summer term, 11 Lower Sixth students headed to Mumbai for ten days to explore this exciting city, and to see how some of the problems generated by a large population were being dealt with in a developing country. The students had been working hard to raise funds over the year and made donations of over £7000 this year.

Each year, students visit a number of charities that are attempting to empower young people through education. Although there are many issues facing the poor or abandoned in Mumbai, it is inspiring to see the action of many organisations refusing to accept such fate.

A particular highlight this year was working with the charity 'Reality Gives' who organise tours through Dharavi - one of India's largest slums. Whilst overturning the students' perceptions about slums, and seeing the community centre run by the charity, it was incredible to think that their donations would pay a year's worth of rent for the community centre. Whilst there, Sevenoaks students spoke to several young men and women who wished to practise their English and gain confidence through these interactions.

Playing, singing and dancing were recurrent themes on the trip, whether it was at Snehasadan - which acts as rescue houses for lost children found at the large railway stations in the city, or at Save the Children India - working with mentally disabled or profoundly deaf children to give them skills to be able to live relatively independently. The money donated to Snehasadan will provide care, housing, food and clothing for 10 children for the year, and Save the Children India would provide 3 hearing aids to children who had never heard before - inspirational indeed!

The visit to Mukta Javeen, a centre run by nuns who look after orphans with HIV, gave our students the chance to reflect on the meaning of Service, and donations to the International Justice Mission would allow them to continue their investigations into sex trafficking, provide training to those who deal with such cases and aftercare packages to survivors of these crimes.

Whilst with Magic Bus who, through sport, teach students about the value of team-work and provide basic health education, all students enjoyed football and games, despite the heat. The donation our students made will allow 70 underprivileged children from a village to take part in the Magic Bus programme for a year. An additional donation to Akanksha will allow two children to be sponsored through their education for an additional year. A super trip, defined by the students themselves, who were excellent ambassadors, thoughtful throughout and great fun.

One student put it best: It was a completely new experience to me, with a whole range of emotions for which I am not regretful at all to have felt. Progressively throughout the trip I found that, as you both said initially, what we were doing and who we were with, affected us as well as the charities. Personally, the most surprising moment was returning home. To an extent, I was prepared to go from the UK to India but it was being back at home that I really noticed the difference.

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