Students and staff give warm welcome to youngsters from India

Youngsters from a children’s home in India have been making new friends, having fun and seeing life in Leicester on their first visit outside the country.

Ashram group

The team from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Square Mile India, launched two years ago to support  Manav Sadhna in Ahmedabad, organised the special trip for five children this week.

Every month, students and staff from DMU travel to Ahmedabad to work with the children and the community, running activities including dance, drama, maths and English as well as health programmes such as free hearing screenings.

This was a chance for the students to show them life in Leicester and on campus with departments such as the Institute for Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD) showcasing a “green” rickshaw, fun sessions at DMU’s Health and Life Sciences laboratories, planting bulbs with DMU gardeners and a morning with the Confucius Institute learning Mandarin and kung fu!

Ashram lab

The children also showed off their dancing in a special performance for students and staff in Hawthorn Square to Vaishnava Jana To, one of Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite songs.

Away from DMU, the chihldren visited Rowlatts Hill Primary School to make new friends with pupils and join classes, and were invited to watch Leicester City’s winning performance against Leeds United in the Carabao Cup, with City legend Alan Birchnall coming to meet them. They loved seeing the Diwali lights on Belgrave Road – and the big wheel – and taking a tour of Leicester.

Ashram painting

Shirish Dabhi, of the Manav Sadhna charity, said that the partnership with DMU had been “amazing”. He said: “The best part of the trip is giving the children the chance to experience and different world and different culture. They are very curious and have learned a lot, but also had lots of fun.

“We would like to say a big thank you for the love and support from DMU for arranging the trip and everyone that has organised activities.”

The children’s home is within the Gandhi Ashram, where Gandhi himself lived for 12 years. It is in one of the poorest areas of Gujarat, close to the slum area of Ramapir No Tenko, which houses 160,000 people in an area the same size as the West End of Leicester, where 8,000 people live.

Ashram postage

Jodie Rebecca, Footwear Design student who went to Ahmedabad, said: “It absolutely warms my heart that my uni brought over the children I met in India while volunteering.”

The DMU Square Mile India fund was created to support the children’s home with essentials like books, access to medicine as well as equipment for sports and games. It is supported by DMU staff and members of the public, who donate from £2 a month to help the work of the ashram.

DMU students also travel to other Indian states, where projects include building vital toilets that will help keep girls in education and providing free English lessons. To support the fund, click here.