A party of supporters of the Taxal-based charity Life Association, including pupils of New Mills School, has just returned from India. They took with them gifts, equipment and money , and have returned with vivid stories about the work Life is doing for the real life Slumdog Millionaires.
Much of the help that Simon and Julia Hawthorne’s charity provides is for the sort of children, rescued from lives of poverty like the young stars of the Oscar winning film.The charity is run from Sitch House, further along the valley from St James’ church.
Mark Pugh, Julie;s brother from Glossop, kept a blog of the visit. He describes meeting children in Dharavi, the area of Mumbai where the film was made: “I was expecting to be shocked at the poverty, the stench and the appalling conditions of this square mile where over a million people live, work, sleep, and eat, but I don’t think I have ever met people who were so friendly, welcoming and generous with the little they had.”
Mark describes a communal area in the alleyways round a pottery kiln, which raises money to support Life projects in India: “One young lad was playing music on his mobile phone through a makeshift speaker system. Suddenly a bit of funny dancing turned into a full-on Dharavi disco … until there were 80 of us bopping around. Personally, I was able to use some of the moves I’d used when dancing to Bangra Knights in The Oakwood (a Glossop pub) the other day..”
A visit to the Life Association orphanage was party time again, with singing and presentation of flower garlands the children had made. “These kids are amazing. They come from all kinds of backgrounds, rescued from a life on the street. They are given a chance here of a loving family life, an education and three meals a day.”