Stories of Change

Education Transforming Lives

Press Release: The Duchess of Cornwall visits Suas Literacy Support Programme at Claddagh National School, Galway

May 19 2015: The Duchess of Cornwall, who is a Patron of the National Literacy Trust in the UK, spoke to children and volunteer mentors participating in the Programme. She then presented both the pupils and their mentors with certificates to acknowledge their participation in the project.

Partha Sardar: Bridging the Gap
Partha first attended the Sabuj Kunri Centre, run by our partners Sabuj Sangha and funded by Suas, at age 6. With his father’s sudden departure from the family home and lots of siblings to raise, Partha’s mother focused on earning money to feed her family, leaving home early each morning meant Partha spent much of his day roaming the streets and train station platform aimlessly.

Tomina Khatun: Leading the change
Tomina attends primary school in the community of Chariswar in south Kolkata, India. It is an area rife with poverty; small homes constructed of mud, whose residents are largely pottery makers and daily labourers. For the past seven years, Suas and our partner Development Action Society have been working in the area to provide high quality education and inclusive, safe and healthy learning environments for students.
Naushad Khan: The Difference Volunteers Make
In our quest to support the marginalized several people gradually got associated with us either as a full time employee or as volunteers.  At the beginning of the program we heard phrases like “one more group of volunteers to entertain” and “not again!” from our centres. To which we could only reply” just wait and watch”.
Diana has been involved with Gatoto Primary School in Kenya for over seventeen years in one way or another. Currently she is engaged with ChildsLife International as the community coordinator for Mukuru slums in their Live Learn & Earn (LLE) HIV /AIDS program and hopes to study for her Masters this year.


Volunteer Perspectives

I’d be lying if I said that the idea of having six weekends in five months fully dedicated to Suas preparation filled me with glee. However, all of them were uplifting. The level of specialist skills which we were taught over the weekends was hugely impressive and of great assistance while overseas. If I was to select one skill which I learnt there and tried to implement during the Programme and beyond and, actually, every day of my life since then, it is the art of active listening.
Wake up. Sweat. Get out of bed. Sweat. Shower. Sweat. Not just a standard start, but a guaranteed start to a day in Kolkata. Mornings are hectic. Thirteen Volunteers milling around, trying to get ready for the day. Leave the house. Stop off at the shop across the road. Get the supplies for the day. Have a bit of banter with the staff because you do not have change. Same argument. Different day. The journey begins.
The volunteering was so rewarding. The kids were always so excited to see their mentors and you really build a special bond with them. No matter how bad of a day you may have been having, the kids always manage to lift your spirits and you can’t help but leave the session with a huge smile on your face. Tuesdays were my favourite day of the week in first year!
The coordinator role is a challenging one, and it will almost definitely challenge you in ways you won’t anticipate, no matter how much preparation you do! But it is also a unique opportunity to work with an inspirational group of people (volunteers, coordinators, partners, teachers and children) who will help you to develop a new perspective on the world and your place in it.
The journey that we are on together is sure to change each and every one of us in some way – however subtle it may be. At this moment the VP canvas is blank, waiting for each volunteer and coordinator to add their own little touch of colour. I for one can’t wait to see the vibrant tapestry that we create together.


Staff Perspectives

Mary Chambers & Claire Faithorn: Impact in India

Setting off for Delhi in the early hours of a dark February morning we were full of enthusiasm and to do lists! Claire, Project Manager on the Volunteer Programme 2014, was busy arranging this year’s placements from Ireland and had scheduled meetings with each of our 7 partners during our time in India.