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How DMU Square Mile India changed our lives

Students who visited De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s new Square Mile in India have told how the experience has changed their lives.

DMU Square Mile India has been created to give an overseas dimension to DMU Square Mile, which has been using the skills of students and staff to help the community in Leicester since 2011.

DMU India inset

The Indian project in the slums of Ramapir No Tekro in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, is home to 160,000 people who live in the same size area as the 7,000 living in Leicester’s Square Mile.

Reema Valand, first year Forensic Science student, Emma Randall, second year Adult Nursing and Preeya Kagdadia, a second year Child Nursing student were part of a team who travelled to India to see the kind of projects DMU students could get involved in.

Health programmes such as carrying out eyesight and hearing tests are now being set up, while engineering students will work on schemes to improve water supplies and drainage.

DMU India inset 3

DMU Square Mile India is supporting a children’s home as part of its work in Ahmedabad though a charitable sponsorship scheme, the Square Mile India Fund.

The fund will initially provide the children of the lowest caste in Ahmedabad with essentials including books, access to medicine, and equipment for sports and games.

The three girls stayed with youngsters in a children’s home which runs classes in maths, basic English and provides a safe space to learn and play. The girls accompanied teachers from the school into the slums where they ran makeshift classrooms for street children, educating children and parents on the importance of school.

Emma said: “The children were amazing. We met them and asked if there was anything that they wanted, and they said ‘just being here brings us such happiness’. We had tears running down our faces when we heard that, it was so moving.

“It made us realise how incredibly lucky we are to have what we have.”

DMU india inset 2

Preeya said: “The entire experience has been life changing. It’s inspired me to push to be better than my best and it’s changed where I want to take my nursing degree.”

They are now planning to return to the ashram to do part of their nursing degree study in India, working with the community.

For Reema, whose family live in Ahmedabad, it was the chance to see a different part of the city: “It’s allowed me to see a part of India that I have never come across on family trips. Meeting the children was incredible and the staff were so caring. Their favourite class was English. I’m definitely planning to go back soon.”

* Could you support the Square Mile India Fund?  Donations cost from £2 per month and you can donate individually or team up with others, for example friends or colleagues, to make donations. To find out more about the programme, or ways to get involved, please contact Amy White on awhite@dmu.ac.uk.

Posted on Wednesday 24th February 2016

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