Students and alumni learn about tackling global challenges during trip to India

Students and alumni from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have visited three different projects in India, learning how to address global issues such as hunger and health.

Around 30 current and former DMU students have travelled to the city of Ahmedabad, in the Gujarat state, to further the university’s ongoing work to support people living in the region through DMU Square Mile India.

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The three projects are linked to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which address global challenges such as hunger, health, education, climate change and social justice, aiming to ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

DMU has been chosen by the United Nations Academic Impact group as a ‘designated hub’ for SDG number 16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive societies, justice for all and building inclusive institutions.

The university’s new strategic plan, setting out the mission, values and strategic aims of the university for the next five years, has been crafted in line with the SDGs.

One DMU group paid a visit to Sense International India, a charity which provides support for young people who are both deaf and blind.

There are 500,000 deafblind people in India and the students and alumni were told about Sense’s work. The charity employs staff who educate children, teach them to communicate using sign language and equip young people with skills that enable them to earn their own income.

The group had the chance to experience being deafblind by trying SensX, which simulates what it would be like to lose those senses and rely on touch and smell.

To finish the visit, the group made three-dimensional tactile models which will be used as learning materials for children who use Sense’s deafblind unit in Ahmedabad.

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Third year Business Management student Przemyslaw Kaminski, from Poland, said that visiting Sense India was an enlightening experience.

He said: “I got to experience their world, it is so different for people who are able to see and hear. These people are so happy all the time, they are so nice.

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“After today I will definitely be more understanding of people with disabilities and I’ll be happy all the time because there are people in much worse situations.”

Another group visited craft rooms to see how women in Ahmedabad produce clothes and other items which they use themselves or sell to support their families.

Adult Nursing graduate Kyle Bonsar explained: “It’s really changed my perspective on how clothes are produced. Seeing the hard work women put in to make simple items is really eye-opening and will change the way I approach buying things when I’m back home.”

The final group spent the day at Akshaya Patra, which aims to end classroom hunger and runs the world’s largest school lunch programme, providing free lunches for more than 100,000 children in the Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar districts every day.

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They were given a tour of the charity’s kitchens, where around 4.5 tonnes of rice and 8 tonnes of vegetables are cooked before being distributed by 44 specially designed vehicles.

They then saw the immense difference that this work makes by visiting one of the Ahmedabad schools which receive these meals at lunchtime.

Patrycja Madej, who studies Business and Management at DMU, said it was ‘an amazing experience’ to see the impact of Akshaya Patra’s work.

“It is amazing that they prepare 1.7million food portions for Indian children per day,” she said. “We went to the school to meet the children and help serve the food, it was an amazing to contribute something and see the smiles on the kids’ faces.”

Posted on Tuesday 4th December 2018

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