Hiya! A couple of years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Kolkata, India in transition year with the Hope Foundation. It was here that I fell in love with the idea of nursing that led me down my career path of helping others. It was one of the best trips I have ever taken and I am going to share some insight into what we experienced and what India has to offer.
The country and why I went
India is the most populated country in the world with Kolkata (formally Calcutta) hosting a population of over 4.6 million people. There are approximately 800,000 street children in Kolkata and I had the privilege of meeting these beautiful young people. I have such a selection of pictures of these little kids that would melt your heart but I am unable to publish them online for security reasons. I’m sorry they are actually gold ahaha. Our school organised this immersion program with our guidance counsellor and the selection process was tough so in the end myself and sixteen other students from our school travelled to India along with other colleges in Ireland who we became very close with. We travelled to Dubai and then made our connecting flight to Kolkata.
Over the course of our time in Calcutta we were brought to several different programmes that the Hope Foundation had set up including orphanages, schools and hospitals. The work that these people do is amazing. They do everything in their power to help as many people as they can. Even something as simple as taking a shipping container into a slum and using it as a safe place where kids can gather to learn their basic alphabet is mind blowing. Hope’s main priority is helping the street children however they also run programmes for the mothers such as sewing classes and tutorials on weaving and creating your own jewellery from basic materials. These are simple little skills that these people can use to earn a living.
What we saw
While visiting the orphanages, slums and hospitals were the main reason for our trip we also managed to squeeze in a visit to Mother Theresa’s Tombstone in the Mother House in Kolkata. We had the opportunity to visit some temples as well which are simply gorgeous. The architecture is mesmerising and the buildings are so full of colour it is a stark contrast to our catholic churches back home. I wish we could have had more time in India but it is on the top of my list of countries I want to go back to. While our visit was short and sweet, the experience was life changing for me. I felt I came back a better person who understands how lucky we are to be born in a first world country and to make the most of it!
So that is just a quick synopsis of my time in India. We stayed at a pretty basic hotel in Kolkata and got our dinner every night included in our expenses. We had to fund-raise 3,500 euro each before we left which was tough going but very worth it. My advice would be to take these opportunities when they come at you! I was nervous going as I was only fifteen and had never been on a trip without my parents before but it was the best thing for me and the whole journey taught me some serious life lessons.
Mini Mint x