Kolkata has a very special place in my heart. Being back here – in the City of Joy – has been bringing back so many memories; memories of the things I saw and did which inspired me to set up Khushi Feet back in 2012.
Back in the UK, when Khushi Feet is fundraising for the street schools here in Kolkata, we’re not seeing first-hand how much of a difference our money is making. Fundraising is hard work and often, the only thing that motivates me to keep going is my memories of the street schools here. These memories remind me just how much of a lifeline these schools really are for street children.
Let me share with you a perfect example of this…
Today we were back at the Hatibagan (which means ‘Elephant Garden’) Mobile School. During play time, I was chatting with an inspiring young woman called Nasreen. Many years ago when she was a little girl, Nasreen used to live on the streets of Kolkata. I asked her to describe what this was like, but she couldn’t tell me. It was a difficult time for her as her father passed away – the memories were too painful for her to recall. She started coming to GNCEM’s mobile school at Hatibagan and very quickly realised how much of a fantastic opportunity it was for her. Before long she moved up to the Girls Hostel where she successfully completed her exams. Nasreen is now a teacher at the Hatibagan school.
Nasreen is only 20, but is very mature for her years. Living on the streets hasn’t hardened her, however in talking to her I can tell that she is an incredibly strong woman. At the same time, she has a very calm and gentle presence – she engages perfectly with her young students from the streets and can relate to them completely. She clearly still doesn’t take anything in her life for granted and she is eternally grateful to GNCEM for helping her off the streets and into employment.
The street schools which Khushi Feet supports are changing lives. Fact. After meeting Nasreen, I will be heading home on Sunday with a renewed enthusiasm for continuing to support these schools.
I have spent the last couple of days chatting with the directors of the GNCEM schools about how we can help on the near future. There are some very exciting ideas in the pipeline, so watch this space!
No one person can change the world or eradicate extreme poverty. But we can all do our bit and when we pull together, lives can be changed. I have seen a real-life example of this today in Nasreen. I hope you will support Khushi Feet and join us as we continue to help provide street children with an education – these beautiful kids deserve their footsteps to freedom.