Mumbai, December 2016

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In December 2016 I returned to India for what turned out to be a hugely inspiring trip. 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.

I was once again moved by the incredible work of Mumbai Smiles throuhgout a number of the city’s slums, and I was greeted by an unbelievably generous group of people who work every day 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 (the founder of Mumbai Smiles) and the team. I also met a group of teenage girls who were taking part in a life skills class. 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 group are growing into confident young adults, 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 a few hours of wandering, I was reminded of the welcoming nature of so many local people towards a foreign visitor, always happy to pass on directions and have a quick chat.

As always, I was sad to leave Mumbai and India. To the Mumbai Smiles team I’d like to say a huge thanks for giving me a truly unforgettable experience that continues to inspire me — 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.

If you’d like to make a donation to Mumbai Smiles, you can do so here — all donations are passed on in full.