Mumbai, December 2016
In December 2016 I returned to India for what turned out to be a hugely inspiring visit. I wanted to spend more time with the amazing team who work in the Andheri office of Mumbai Smiles, and to visit a few more of the organisation's projects.
This turned out to be one of my most memorable of travelling experiences — not only was I once again moved by the incredible things that Mumbai Smiles are working on, I was also greeted with an unbelievably generous group of people who work everyday on these fantastic projects, both in the Mumbai Smiles office and within the local community.
It was great to meet more of the young kids who are just starting out with their education, an opportunity that may not have been available were it not for the work of Jaume and the team. I also met a group of teenage girls who were taking part in a lively discussion and learning important life skills. This project acts as a form of empowerment to young people who may not ordinarily be taught their own rights as a citizen among other things. It was inspiring to hear that many of the gang are growing into confident young women, questioning the status quo and challenging opinions.
I also had the chance to spend a few more days exploring the city. This was my third visit to Mumbai and it still felt chaotic when I first walked out among the huge number of people, the crazy traffic, stray dogs, cows, cats, rats and other street-side obstacles. But after an hour of wandering and talking to a few people at a tea kiosk, I was reminded of the warm nature of so many locals towards a foreign visitor, always happy to pass on advice and directions and have a quick chat.
As always, I was sad to leave Mumbai and India, but I'm already looking forward to my next visit. To the Mumbai Smiles team I'd like to say a huge thanks for giving me a truly unforgettable experience that will inspire me for years to come — I think you're a bunch of heroes and it's a real privilege to be able to contribute in a small way to your amazing work. And thanks also for the chocolate (I just finished eating it as I write on the flight home to Barcelona).
Image: © Monotoomono / Shutterstock.com.