By Erin Meagher and Caitlin Keogh of Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh TY.

The Hope Foundation

Getting up for school every morning, lifts to town to meet friends, complaining about the dinners we are handed up, clean running water to shower every day. We never realised how much we took for granted until we met Charlotte Nagle from the Hope Foundation.

The Immersion TY programme gives students like me and you a chance to give something back while also testing our skills of resilience and tenacity. Now it was no easy task as we had to raise €2400 each and then pay through private funding for our trip but we were hooked. The best part was working as part of team and researching ways to fundraise. We were taken back by the support we received especially from local business’. From October right through to March we worked tirelessly to achieve our goals.

The morning of our trip came around so quickly. After 21 hours of travelling the first thing that hit us was the overwhelming heat that left us breathless. Getting to the hotel was a relief but with curiosity getting the better of us we headed out to visit a girls school. The poverty while overwhelming was also humbling. Despite having no family to care for them, feed them or give them a sense of purpose the Hope Foundation intervened to help and rescued them from the streets of Kolkata. These little girls with their smiling faces and big dark eyes now have a chance to be educated, a bed to sleep in, daily meals and a sense that they are being cared for. They got their dignity back.

One of the hospitals we went to visit left us in no doubt how much we take for granted. A woman lying in her bed talking to a nurse. Her story, she was abandoned by her son due to having dementia. She beckoned us over and held our hands. She kissed our hands and held them to her heart. The one thing we thought she was asking for was that she would get better but the nurse went on to explain to us that she was praying we would always have our health. Someone left abandoned praying for others?

The staff of the schools and hospitals were truly amazing during our trip. They were patient and kind and showed great

empathy to the people they helped on a daily basis. While we saw a lot of poverty we also saw gratitude. Gratitude for living, gratitude for education, gratitude for a safe bed to lie in at night time, gratitude for their health and gratitude for the love and care they are shown.

We are now back home for the last few weeks and we can honestly say that this trip is one that we will never forget. Through our funding The Hope Foundation can keep staff on the ground and build communities to help the helpless. We gave a little hope in a big world and also take time to reflect on the things we take from granted.

Our trip would not have been possible without the help of all of our family and friends and of course local business’ such as Vistakon, Facelift Kitchens, Bailey Foods, Smyth’s Toy Store, Kieran O’Brien Solicitors, BDO Accounting and The Spotted Dog. We want to thank you all so much for the opportunities you gave us thank the Hope Foundation for having us. If you are heading to TY this September please give this programme your attention so that you can also give a little hope in a big world.