Stories of HOPE – Holly Riva

Stories of HOPE Holly Riva

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Holly Riva began visiting HOPE’s programmes in Kolkata as a four-year-old, with her mum Julie; kick-starting her lifelong support for the organisation. Now, as the singer-songwriter pursues her singing career and launches the song Hope (For Us), she talks about her connection to HOPE and Kolkata, and the important life-lessons she learnt in the city.

My mum had always been involved with The Hope Foundation ever since I can remember, and therefore she opened my eyes to being aware of the incredible work it does.

Additionally, she works in the fashion industry. We would go as a family to Kolkata, India, annually, ever since I was four, and I would see a very different way of life. I must have been six or seven-years-old and couldn’t wait to go on play dates with the HOPE girls at Panditya Place [a HOPE Residential Childcare Centre]. The way I viewed it was I got to play on the roof and hang out with the children and loved it.

Joining the HOPE family

My support for HOPE happened naturally. I remember witnessing in Kolkata extreme health diseases for the first time and seeing that other children didn’t have the same support and privileges that you expect the world to provide when you're a child. Therefore, when I was little, I would witness and try to think of how I could help.

Because I was so small, it was hard to know what the right thing to do was, but I knew I loved to sing and dance and so did my friends at HOPE. Ever since I was tiny, I always knew that singing was something I loved to do.

Maureen Forrest, the founder of HOPE, picked up on that and suggested that the way I could help, in my small part, could potentially be to do a "Kids for Kids" performance at HOPE’s Foundation Day in Kolkata (in Science City to 3,000 people),

Hope (For Us)

Holly's new song Hope (For Us) is dedicated to HOPE and our late director Geeta Venkadakrishnan.

Royalties from the song will go towards HOPE’s programmes in Kolkata, India.

Support HOPE by listening to the song on Spotify, add it to your playlists and share it with friends.

You can also find the song on Spotify by searching 'Holly Riva' or 'Hope (For Us)'. 

where I could sing with the HOPE children and we would all raise awareness together doing what we loved, having fun.

That seemed like the best idea ever to me at eight years old. It was my first ever performance, and I'm very grateful to Maureen as it changed my life.

Learning life lessons

One of my fondest memories was when my mum, dad, and I went to Panditya Place. I used to love going there, and on this particular day, we went on a Sunday. I was playing on the rooftop with the girls, and they brought another bus load of children over from another HOPE Residential Childcare Centre, so that we could do some rehearsals of dancing.

Instead, we were just running around playing tag, having a party. Mum said, 'Why don’t we celebrate and get some ice creams?’ So, a little girl called Esida, who was a child that we were sponsoring, came with us.

We went into the slums and to this tiny little shop, and I'll never forget it. Going up to the man and saying that we wanted 80 ice creams, his eyes beaming. ‘How am I going to get 80 ice creams?’ he asked.

He was shouting around to his friends, and they were running around bringing more and more ice cream from these little, tiny stalls. And it was such a big sale; we had bags full, and we took them back.

Unfortunately, we were one ice cream short. And in that moment, we handed out all the ice cream to everyone, and I realised it was one of the biggest lessons I’d had to date as a child, because I wasn’t going to get an ice cream.

Mum whispered to me, ‘It might be a better idea to give an ice cream to someone that doesn’t usually get an ice cream.’

I was really dying to eat the ice cream, and I know that my eyes looked really sad as I handed it over to the last little girl who was queuing patiently. And I thought to myself, ‘Well, I’ve got to listen to mum.’ And so, I learned to give my last ice cream away. But in doing so, I got the biggest present ever because I learned in life that I’ve got enough. I always choose this as my example of 'What do I need and how much can I give?’

Holly as a child, hugging two girls from HOPE's programmes
Holly with friends from HOPE programmes
Holly with girls from a HOPE Residential Childcare Centre
Making a difference

When you join HOPE there’s such a beautiful community, a really gorgeous family that is striving to make a difference. It’s an incredibly personal and holistic charity. The people, message, practical and emotional impact HOPE has is truly incredible and I’m so grateful to be involved.

Holly has written a song called Hope (For Us) in memory of the late Director of Hope Foundation India, Geeta Venkadakrishnan. To mark HOPE’s 25th anniversary and International Day for Street Children, Holly will generously be donating all royalties from the song to HOPE.

Support us by listening to the song, adding it to your playlists and sharing it with friends.

Related Posts
Your Cart