Students and alumni from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have arrived in India for a week of volunteering with DMU Square Mile India.
The group of 30 current and former students have travelled to the city of Ahmedabad, in the Gujarat region, to further the university’s ongoing work to support people living in the region.
On their first day in the city, they attended morning prayers at Manav Sadhna, a charity which follows the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and works with 11,000 children each day through community centres in the slums of Ahmedabad.
The charity was created 26 years ago and focuses on making people happy and giving love and support to children living in poverty.
There was a special welcome from Manav Sadhna co-founder Viren Joshi, who said how pleased he was to see such a large and diverse group from DMU.
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The group was also given a tour of the Gandhi Ashram, which is a community of people who live and work together and has played an important part in Ahmedabad’s history. It was set up in 1917 by Mahatma Gandhi, who lived there until 1930, and the students and alumni were able to look at Gandhi’s house and see examples of his teachings.
Following lunch, the group visited a community centre in one of the slums of Ahmedabad to see the work of Manav Sadhna first-hand.
Psychology student Jahnvi Dave, whose family originates from the Gujarat region, said that this trip will give her a fresh perspective.
She explained: “When I’ve been to Gujarat before I’ve never really helped anyone so I thought this would be a different thing to do, to come with friends rather than family to help people out and do volunteering rather than touristy things. I thought it would be a really good opportunity to take.”
Around 10 DMU alumni are part of the trip and former student Devica Jamnadas, who graduated with a degree in Computing in 2015 and now works as a business analyst, also wanted to come on the trip to revisit her roots.
“I do come back to Gujarat quite often to visit family, I get a true sense of belonging here”, she said.
“It’s very fruitful to give back to where you come from so I’m looking at the opportunity of giving back.”
Three different groups will visit Akshaya Patra, which is a charity providing food for schools, Sense India, which is a charity working with deafblind people, and Gramshree Craftroots, who train women to use crafts as a means of income.
The three groups will then come together for conference at Ahmedabad’s Environmental Sanitation Institute to discuss their findings at the end of the week.
Devica added: “I’m interested to know more about Sense India and we’re splitting into three groups so I want to see what the other groups have got up to and what they bring back. At the same time, I also want to see the cultural side of Ahmedabad.”
Adult Nursing graduate Kyle Bonsar said: “I’m looking forward to meeting the kids, seeing how they live and seeing how small interventions are making big differences to their lives. Also taking in Indian culture because it’s massively different.”
Posted on Monday 3rd December 2018