On the 3rd of March we embarked on our journey to Kolkata, India. It was one of the best weeks of my life. I met some amazing people, both Indian and Irish alike. The Hope Foundation volunteers and staff took us to many areas of Kolkata where we experienced extreme poverty like I had never witnessed before. We saw families living in slums and we also visited a dump site where families live and feed off the rubbish there. Everyone seemed friendly and one of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Chitpur crèche and meeting the kids there. It was good to see how the money we raised was being used. Another great moment had to be the Sari night where we all dressed up in Indian gear and had a party. It was a really enjoyable night. I gained so much from the trip but mostly, that despite the poverty in Kolkata, everyone seemed friendly and happy. I also learned that I should take nothing for granted in my own life.

Frankie O’Reilly, Clongowes Wood College, Kildare.

“We travel, not to escape life; but for life not to escape us.”
I feel this quote is extremely relevant to my trip to Kolkata. This unforgettable week has made me realise how fortunate we are, and how we should appreciate what we have. We visited numerous homes, crèches and the HOPE Hospital, and were struck by the wonderful affection of the kids towards us.Their beaming smiles and hugs will remain in my heart forever, as well as their appreciation for the little gifts we brought, (not to mention the time we spent with them)!
“You gave us your time, the most important gift of all”. Probably the happiest and sunniest kids I’ll ever meet.

Rachel O’Riordan, ScoilMhuireKanturk

“The immersion school trip is an amazing opportunity for young people to get a better understanding of poverty, living in such a small country we call Ireland many people don’t realise the extent for the poverty out there. It’s an experience you will never forget an is something you can’t just tell people about and expect them to understand, no you really have to experience it for yourself as its so hard to put in words how amazing this trip is. kolkata is a beautiful place with very nice people however there are a lot of bad too, but when there all I saw was the good. The children are so happy there and make you realise that there happy with the basics and that if they can be happy with just that so should we, so how come we have all this stuff we don’t need. These kids gave away the stuff we gave them, for example when we brought stickers for them they didn’t use them all they gave us some. There beautiful children who are happy, caring toward one an another and are amazingly talented and deserve the world.”

Sicilia Wilson, Clonakilty Sacred Heart Secondary School

I chose to sign up and have the opportunity because I felt like it was time to give back to those in need. I’m so grateful for the life I love I wanted to show not only myself but my peers and family that I’m caring and loving and I felt HOPE provided this for me ….I’m 16 years of age and to think I travelled to Kolkata, India, and helped out so many children, got to know a different culture made loads of new friends and had THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF LIFE is not something everyone can say they done at such a young age. I’m glad and grateful I got the opportunity to be able to experience this AMAZING EXPERIENCE words can’t describe the feelings I have for HOPE. HOPE was a life change for me and many others too, I’m sure.
Helping One Person Everyday is my new motto. HOPE has changed me and for the better – I’m more determined now to appreciate life as good as I have it and to be glad of such wonderful things in this world.

Katie Wallace, Glanmire Community College