Sally Hughes (right) and Ciara Ronayne discuss their placement
My placement with the Edith Wilkins Street Children Foundation to date has been most fulfilling. When I first arrived, I initially spent time getting to know the children as it is most important that they feel comfortable around me, as some children may impart sensitive information that has not been learnt of yet by the counsellor or staff.
Sean Dumphey, a doctor from Ireland, travelled to Darjeeling as he is keen to set up a physical therapy workshop. The people of Darjeeling travel miles everyday up and down hills, sometimes with enormous loads on their backs. This results in direct strain on their body so Sean has come up with a culture appropriate plan to implement in the coming months to give help to the active citizens of Darjeeling.
After Sean had left, Denis McClean, the UNISDR chief of communications, arrived at the foundation. He owns a funding agency named GLAS that has supported the foundation in the past by providing funds to rebuild houses. Denis conducted interviews about the earthquake that occurred in Darjeeling in 2017 which affected the foundation. He conducted an interview with Namrata, the Assistant Director of the foundation, about the safety precautions that they took during the earthquake. Denis then conducted an interview with Ciara and I about our impressions of our time here so far.
I have written many funding proposals for the foundation in order for them to renovate the foundation as a matter of urgency. Writing funding proposals was quite time consuming and has taken up the majority of my time in the office to date. These have all been written and given to the CEO Edith Wilkins, as many funding agencies have closed applications for funding or India is not on the list.
I was also given the task, along with Ciara, to repaint the classroom in the foundation to make it more appealing to the children and to brighten the classroom. The foundation also wants us to leave our mark as a memory of our time here.
We have been given the task of promoting the foundation on social media and redoing their Instagram and ensure that posts are more fluent than what they used to be. This includes weekly updates and promotion of fundraising events in Ireland.
We have also worked alongside the case worker and counsellor, helping to write case files and improve the English in the documents. I have learned a lot from this work and am interested in it as my possible future career.
The fifteenth Foundation Day took place on 14 April, which was a great day full of celebration. The children performed songs and dances they had prepared and there was a feast with celebrations after. I also performed on Foundation Day. I sang Irish music to give all at the foundation an insight into what Irish music sounds like. I have also taught a music class which consisted of teaching the children fun songs, which I will continue during my time here.
Both Ciara and I have conducted home visits and surveys with the staff from the foundation. Follow-up visits on rehabilitated children is some of the most vital work carried out by staff in the foundation.
On Monday 29 April, Ciara and I travelled to Kolkata with our co-worker Anup as he was completing IT training for the foundation. We were invited to travel to gain a better understanding of poverty in other parts of India where some of the children in the foundation have come from. It was an eye-opening experience as the poverty in Kolkata is much more extreme than what I see in Darjeeling every day. Travelling with Anup, being able to communicate better and understand situations more fully, was most helpful. My experience in Kolkata was most certainly eye-opening into both humanitarian and development work.
To date, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Edith Wilkins Foundation, and I look forward to what is in store for my remaining time in Darjeeling.