Charlie McBurney has volunteered twice with The Hope Foundation in Kolkata. Here, Charlie writes about her experience and about the importance of our work in the City of Joy.
I first went to Kolkata for the month of August 2018 and I returned for July 2019. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience volunteering overseas with The Hope Foundation. I went with my two friends Diane and Fionnan through a volunteer abroad programme in our college.
As soon as you arrive in Kolkata the poverty and injustice is blatant. The stark wealth gap in India is horrific to see with countless families living on the streets beneath. The work HOPE has done is lifechanging. Just from chatting to people out and about on the streets of Kolkata you can hear first-hand stories about people’s experiences with HOPE. In a city of several million people we were approached by friendly passers by in the street who just wanted to tell us that they did an education programme with HOPE or that their family member was with HOPE and it just goes to show just how many people HOPE have reached.
We taught workshops in photography, screen printing, tie & dye, batik, design drawing, kids paper craft and Photoshop. Our workshops ranged from teaching children as young as 6 up to mature adults. It really was incredible to meet so many different people and everyone was kind and welcoming. The skills were picked up very quickly with so many students showing such enthusiasm and raw talent for the different processes. In the Photoshop workshops we asked the students to design business cards for their dream careers and businesses. The ambition in the class was overwhelming with students wanting to become doctors, politicians, dance teachers, entrepreneurs and teachers. HOPE really gives so many less privileged people the opportunity and the skills to make these dreams come true. We saw this when one student we taught English classes to in 2018 was teaching the computer classes this year in 2019 having completed a programme with HOPE.
The Hope Foundation really breaks the cycle of poverty through education and training striving for a world where it should never hurt to be a child. I would recommend volunteering with HOPE to everyone. Where we are born and what we are born into is just luck. The world is full of gross injustices and making yourself and others aware of this is a step in the right direction. Together with hardworking charities like The Hope Foundation we can make a difference.