Having just returned from a year in Asia, re-entering the world of UK job applications was a slightly terrifying thought. I began to realise that international development was an extremely popular field, full of eager applicants like myself! To put myself in the running, I needed experience.
So on receiving the call from Anna, the Programmes Manager of Child Action, saying she would love to have me as her intern, I was really excited and couldn't wait to get started. A few days later I found myself sitting in the Southbank Centre, surrounded by people from every industry you could imagine. You could almost hear the different thoughts and ideas buzzing around the room!
I knew that Child Action worked in India with children who live in the slums. I also knew that it came about following the documentary 'Secrect Slumdog Millionaire' in which Seema visited Mumbai to find people who could really use her money effectively for the benefit a worthy cause. But it wasn't until this point that I really began to understand all the fantastic work they were doing and the changes they were making to people's lives.
Child Action focuses primarily on education and its importance in enabling people to break out of the cycle of poverty in which it is easy to become trapped. Child Action’s other focus is, of course, children. Education is essentially the most important tool we can give to children. Their openness and enthusiasm mean that they are more able than anyone to embrace and promote change.
Child Action works with three amazing grassroot organisations that were set up in Mumbai, Toybank, Doorstep and Apnalaya. Toybank gives toys to slum children and runs ‘toy libraries’, which in turn ensure children are given the opportunity to play, a right they are often denied in daily life. Doorstep, meanwhile, has transformed a bus into a school which travels around the slums, getting as many children involved as they can. They work on the principle that if the children can't come to the school, the school will come to the children! Apnalaya is a charity that promotes awareness of the importance of education, and provides schooling for people of all ages who have to live on less than $1.23 a day.
Not only has my time as a Child Action intern allowed me to find out about these fantastic causes and the huge need that exists for them in India, but it has given me the opportunity to explore the many different sides to the running of an international development charity. Working alongside Anna, who is one of the loveliest and hard working people I have met, has given me an insight into fundraising on both a large and small scale, the importance of trusts and foundations, research, promotions and programme management.
As well as all the fantastic work that takes place in India, Child Action also runs projects in the UK, to raise awareness of the cause. These UK projects have almost been the most exciting thing about the whole experience! The 'Slum Experience' session is an interactive workshop, in which primary schools are taken on a journey through the slums of Mumbai, to learn about their peers who live there. It is a truly inspirational idea, and I have been lucky enough to see the reaction of some of the children first hand! Not to mention 'Bombay Dreams' – an adaptation of the original Andrew Lloyd Webber musical for children, which will soon be debuting in schools around the country!
The experience has allowed me to meet interesting and unique people, explore new ideas and causes, develop the skills I need to further my career and be a part of an incredibly important organisation that is really making a difference to people’s lives!