La Jolla’s Bishop’s School students return from eye-opening trip to India
By Ashley Mackin
On March 26, students from The Bishop’s School returned from an eye-opening trip to India and Nepal. While there, the 25 young travelers spent four days and nights at a shelter they helped support through fundraising.
Over the last six months, the students raised money through individual efforts and an account with the website crowdrise.com, where they raised money to support the Orphans and Vulnerable Children program of Project Concern International (PCI), which has a shelter and vocational training center in India.
While staying at the shelter, students saw how their fundraising dollars were used. The students also buddied up with a child at the shelter, the most meaningful aspect of the trip for Dylan De Waart.
“Even though there was a language barrier and we were there for (only a few) days, despite all that, we were able to form a strong emotional relationship,” De Waart said of his 13-year-old buddy, as well as a much younger buddy De Waart also befriended, named Karan.
“At the time, I didn’t really think I was impacting their lives or anything … but it turned out we were a big deal in their lives and they became a big deal in our lives too,” De Waart said.
After leaving the shelter, De Waart and the other students went sightseeing in New Delhi, where they saw a young boy begging on the street that resembled Karan.
“The hardest thing was realizing that this kid looked so much (like) Karan in his smile and his actions, that it just as well could have been Karan. If he hadn’t gone to that shelter home, he could have been there begging at the mosque. … It showed what life could be without the shelter home,“ he said.
For Cameron Klaus, another Bishop’s School junior, staying at the shelter was more meaningful to her than if she had gone and stayed at a hotel. She said staying at the shelter not only showed her what poverty looks like, but the effect it has on children.
“It was so amazing to have that experience and to learn from people that have experienced so much and yet are so happy and grateful and amazing in every single way,” she said.
De Waart also commented on the sense of gratitude seen in the Indian children. “Even though we have a lot here, I feel they were a lot happier there,” he said. “My buddy, the biggest thing that I took from him was his smile. No matter where he was, he had a big smile.”
Observing that gratitude in the children generated some in Bishop’s students too. “I think one of the biggest things I got from the trip is how lucky we are and how resilient they are,” De Waart said. “Things that seem meaningless here go a long way over there.”
Fundraising is ongoing for the program, which searches for young children, mostly boys, that have been abused, run away from home or have become orphaned, and have to work on the streets at a young age. The program places them in the shelter, where they receive food, health care, a place to sleep and educational services. To contribute, visit crowdrise.com/pciglobal- swc/fundraiser/pciglobal
While there is a PCI-sponsored vocational center for girls, there are more boys living on the street, said Uli Heine, PCI Director of Development. PCI programs help approximately 1,000 children per year.
For these neglected or abused children, the donations and visits from the La Jolla students enforce another important element of PCI’s mission. “It just shows that someone cares about them and they are worth it,” De Waart said.
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