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Smiles as children in India orphanage receive gift from DMU students


Children in an Indian orphanage have been given pillows to sleep on for the first time thanks to students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

Five Product Design students took 120 pillows with them to the Gandhi Ashram in the slums of Ramapir No Tekro in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The pillows also double as cushions that can be used by the children to sit on when they have lessons and meals so they do not have to sit on the stone floor.

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Children had chosen a rich blue colour and the pillows were put together by Fashion Textile and Accessories and Fashion Buying students during a marathon sewing session. Each pillow is bleach cleanable and microbial, which helps to prevent the spread of bed bugs and diseases such as tuberculosis.

The pillows will mean the children have something to rest their heads on at night, rather than a thin mat, and they are also extremely durable to be practical in the busy ashram.

The Product Design team flew out to Ahmedabad earlier this week carrying the pillows in seven items of hold luggage and visited the ashram yesterday to give the pillows to the children.

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Nick Rowan, senior lecturer at the DMU School of Design, said: “As we are the first faculty-led trip we wanted the visit to make a real impact for the children.

"It was wonderful to see how excited they all were about such a small comfort. The thought that went in to these products should hopefully help to keep the children healthy and able to participate in their valuable education."

Once the children received the pillows they each wrote their name on the fabric and held their pillows up to thank the team.

Jake Paisley, a second-year Product Design student, said: "An every day item to us is such an appreciated item for these children, while we take it for granted.

"There have been plenty of smiling faces and everyone here has been very welcoming and friendly."

Alex Walters, a second-year Product Design student, said: "The whole experience was very rewarding as we were able to see the happiness on their faces."

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DMU is supporting the 120 children at the ashram through charitable sponsorship scheme Square Mile India Fund. People can donate from £2 a month to pay for books, healthcare and equipment for the youngsters, who come from some of the poorest families in the area.

During the visit the Product Design team also met with ashram staff to discuss future projects and opportunities available.

Many children in Gujarat have to start work when they are young because their families are desperate for money, so the team at the ashram have set up a programme to allow these children to work and earn. The work they do is mainly craft-based and the Product Design team will be looking at ways to support the project in the future using their skills and expertise.
Posted on Friday 8th April 2016

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