A group of seventeen students and teachers from The Royal School, Armagh, travelled to India on the 23rd of October 2015 to carry out voluntary work in the slums of New Delhi with the Asha Foundation.
The Asha Foundation is a charity organisation that works with the urban poor of New Delhi, India’s capital city, in order to bring long-term change to their lives through a practical expression of the Christian faith. With the assistance of volunteers, the organisation works to make a difference to residents of the slums through empowerment, education, healthcare and environmental improvements.
The destination of the Royal School Team, consisting of nine girls, five boys and three members of staff, was the slum of Trilokpuri, New Delhi. This was their first time doing voluntary work with the charity in the country in which its work is based. The work carried out by the Armagh students included conducting activities with the children of the slum, teaching them English and doing art-related activities with them. In addition, they were involved with refurbishing the Asha Slum Centre, and painting murals on its walls.
Time was also spent with the women and children of the slum, and visiting the homes of the children. “I particularly found the lane visits to the homes of the children difficult, as the reality of their poverty became evident,” remarked Royal School team member, Judith Hooks. The students faced various challenges during their visit to the slum, as most found it hard to comprehend the poverty in which these people lived. Maria Reaney, another member of the RSA team, said, “I did see some horrific sights, for example, a roughly five-year-old girl holding a baby, tapping at our taxi window on the extremely busy and dangerous New Delhi streets hoping to get some money.”
However, despite these challenges, it was mutually agreed by the team that it was an unforgettable experience. Miss Hamilton, a teacher from The Royal School Armagh who went on the trip, said, “We went with the aim of teaching English, but in actual fact, I think we were ‘taught’ a lot more about the important things in life.” Maria commented on what she believed was a life-changing experience: “I think it would be impossible to forget the individuals we met in Trilokpuri slum. The way those kids acted inspired me and will continue to inspire me throughout my life.”