Square Mile India celebrates a year of changing lives

When DMU Square Mile India was launched a year ago to help transform the lives of poor and vulnerable youngsters, we did not realise the extent to which our students’ lives would be changed too.

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In the past 12 months, scores of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students have visited the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad to meet, work with and help the children who live there.

DMU’s partnership with the ashram celebrated its first anniversary on Saturday, 11 February. Students have taught English, led dance workshops, run craft sessions and raised cash for the home, which provides food and shelter for youngsters from the nearby slums.
Working in partnership with the Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad, DMU Square Mile India has organised regular visits from Leicester to India taking students from a host of different courses and backgrounds. It has also launched a trust fund to provide essentials such as books, school equipment, access to medicine, and sports and games equipment.

Preeya Kagdadia (pictured above, left) who studies Child Nursing, 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.”

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Drama student Chelsea Leggatt, part of a group who led drama and dance workshops at the ashram, said: “The experience has given me a whole new perspective on my life and has really inspired me to, as Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’.”
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And it is not just students who have donated their time. Product Design lecturer Nick Rowan worked with principal lecturer Mark Bradshaw and textiles technician Joanna Earl to design 120 durable cushions which the youngsters could use to sleep and sit on. Before, there was only the hard floor.

Nick said: “The thought that went into these products should hopefully help keep  the children healthy and able to participate in their valuable education.”

Nick is now working on new ideas to help children, particularly those with disabilities, in the ashram.
 DMU's links in India have also led students to work in Indore, helping to create reliable solar power for schools. BEng Mechanical Engineering student Abdur-Rasool Moura worked on a project to create reliable solar power for schools in the area.

He said: “It was an amazing experience and I got to work with some talented people in the solar field.  It was nice to also be a part of something that will benefit the girls at the school as something we take for granted here is life changing for the people over there.”
Posted on Monday 13th February 2017

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