Cempaka School students and teachers had a heartbreaking experience when distributing food to slum dwellers in Mumbai in India last week.
They witnessed hundreds of them fight for whatever little they could get from more than 1,000 boxes that were taken to them.
Cempaka Damansara head prefect Chong Mee Hun, one of the organisers of Cempaka’s “Opening Doors Within” educational charity trip to Mumbai, said the programme was aimed at giving the students an insight into how poverty-stricken slum dwellers lived in Mumbai.
The goal of their mission was to give back to society through the students’ savings for the worthy cause of helping the poor in Mumbai.
“We got a first-hand look at the extent of poverty among slum dwellers. I was deeply moved when I saw the people’s destitute conditions,” said deputy head prefect Adrian Ang Yu Wei.
This year, 23 students of the school and four teachers, went to do voluntary service for five days in Mumbai.
The five-day trip was organised by the Cempaka International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) as part of its Community, Action and Services (CAS) component of the course which required students to fulfil a minimum 50 hours of community service work.
In preparation for the trip, the IBDP students raised more than RM30,000 by selling food at their school canteen and personal donations. The items brought included clothing, toiletries, stationery, toys, food and drinks.
About 400kg of the items were air flown to Mumbai to be distributed among the destitute.
The students spent much time packing food and clothing into the wee hours of the night for distribution to schools, temples and slums
“This trip would never have been possible without the help and guidance of our principal, teachers and Jatin Ramesh Doshi, our main liaison in Mumbai,” said Young Journalists’ Club Damansara president Nicholas Tan.
During this trip, the students visited underprivileged areas in Mumbai, participated in charity events and donated food and basic necessities to various organisations within India.
The “Opening Doors Within” group also visited a school for the mentally challenged, a rural school, the Acorn Foundation Mumbai, participated in an initiative with the Toy Foundation Centre Mumbai.
The students also interviewed an ex-convict at the Gandhi Book Centre in Mumbai, where he spoke of how Gandhi’s teachings allowed him to change the course of his life.