I am in Transition Year in the Presentation School in Thurles. My school runs an immersion program with the Hope Foundation, where they take a select group of TY students and they travel out to Kolkata in India, and visit the Hope Foundation projects. These projects are set up with donated money. They include a boys' and a girls' home, a school, a hospital, and a creche.
The Hope Foundation is dedicated to promoting the protection of street and slum children in Kolkata and the most underprivileged in India. Hope ensures children in its care enter adulthood equipped with the tools and support they need to live healthy and happy lives. To date "The Hope Foundation" has helped 2.3 million children.
For me it all began in April 2016 when girls interested in taking part in the experience applied by writing a letter describing why they should go. Then there was an interview with two women associated with the Hope Foundation. Nobody heard any result of these interviews until a letter of acceptance was sent out to each chosen girl in June.
To travel to Kolkata each participant must raise a minimum of €2300 publicly, which goes directly to the Hope Foundation projects in India. And to cover the costs of travel each individual must also raise €1300 privately. This money is spent on flights, vaccinations, insurance, and visa.
During the summer I started fundraising by selling Hope "Butler's" chocolate bars up at the Rock of Cashel to tourists and locals. I did this with a friend also travelling to Kolkata. We also sold more outside Semple Stadium before, during and after hurling matches. We also travelled to Limerick Junction race track where we had a collection.
In Kolkata I expect the hardest thing for me will be seeing and experiencing the horrific conditions the people live in. For me I know it's going to be a life changing experience and that I'll return home with a new outlook towards life and the basic privileges we have.
I am looking forward to my trip.
The author is a parishioner of Boherlahan-Dualla.
Click to expand the map below showing Kolkata, known formerly as Calcutta.