Footwear Design students to research community life in the streets of India

To most of us, shoes are something we take for granted – but for many people living in the slums of Ahmedabad, India, they are a luxury item.

Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Footwear Design course are visiting the city to meet groups trying to address the problem as well as meeting workers who often have to go barefoot to sift through rubbish dumps to earn their wages.

shoeless INSET

The research visit is supported by the Gandhi Ashram, a children’s home which cares for young people from the surrounding slums, providing them with a place to sleep and study, as well as regular meals.

During their stay in Ahmedabad, the students will take part in classes with the children before returning to campus to design a shoe product to solve a particular issue which they observed.

The DMU Square Mile India team regularly organises visits to the ashram for students who can use their skills and talents to make a difference to the lives of the young people.

The group of four footwear design students - Jodie Harrison, Cody Turner, Camilla Mitchell and Natalie Bowmar-Scothern – will also meet shoemakers and visit a community co-operative which creates handcrafted items sold to raise money for its work.

They will also get a chance to learn about culture as their eight-day visit co-incides with the vibrant Hindu celebration of Janmashtami, which celebrates the first earthly appearance of Lord Krishna, one of the most beloved and important deities in the Hindu religion.   

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Cody, who is just going into her second year of Footwear Design, said: “I have always wanted to go to India, I’m so excited. I cannot imagine not having shoes, it’s something we take for granted and don’t even think about. I don’t think I will really understand it until I see it.   

“I have got all my notebooks so I can draw and record my research and I’m going to take about a million and one pictures. “

Amir Mahmood, who is leading the visit, said: ““The students are all really excited to go to India. I think it will be a huge culture shock for us all, particularly to see the rag picking in action and some of the horrific conditions they work in.”

DMU is supporting the ashram’s work through DMU Square Mile India programme. The university is committed to ensuring the children get the best start possible.

The Square Mile India Fund has been set up for staff, students and the public to donate money towards equipment and facilities for the children. For as little as £2 a month, people can support the work of the Gandhi Ashram.

Posted on Friday 19th August 2016

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