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Paula Scott

Reports on volunteering in Calcutta

In February 2013, I travelled to Kolkata in India with 22 other volunteers with the Irish Charity ‘Lotus Child’. The charity works hard at raising funds and gathering resources in order to help prevent the children of Calcutta living a life on the streets. Our project was to build a school in Sanyrayata, a village on the outskirts of the city, which will provide education for 100 children as well as a resource centre for adult and health education.

Soon after we landed on Indian soil, we were greeted with blasting heat and humidity and a very different world became my reality. What a culture shock it was. I learned about Calcutta in school, and there I was walking through it. Conditions were hazardous, not something I would let my own child live through.

The physical work of building the school was one of the hardest things I have done in my life. Sourcing water to mix cement, carrying blocks for many kilometres every day and plastering walls became part of our nine hour working day. The locals welcomed us into their homes with open arms and big wide smiles, and provided much needed escape and rest when needed during the heat of the day.

Most evenings we visited previous building projects by ‘Lotus Child’, and Orphanages supported by them too. Some of us even managed a 5am start for Ash Wednesday Mass at Mother Teresa’s House. Every day was so worthwhile.

I love people, and I adore children. I am honoured to have taken part in a project so crucially important for the future of these amazing children where instead of a life in the streets, they will have one with education that can set them free. I am forever happy I that listened to my gut instinct and shared some of the knowledge and experience that I gained at the School of Nursing and Midwifery Trinity College Dublin.

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