Chua Ying Pin and Lee Wei Chen Frederick, Class of 2022
Project Kolkata members having a tea break after a tour of the Freeset compound. Photo taken at The Cup, which is their café on the first floor
Aware of Kolkata’s pressing human trafficking problem, as well as having personal NGO contacts such as Ms Josephine Tan, Touch Nature’s Singaporean founder and Ms Wong Ee Kian of Freeset, LKCMedicine Associate Professor of Human and Microbial Genetics Eric Yap, faculty-in-charge of Project Kolkata, recruited four Year 2 and four Year 1 students in September 2018 to embark on a fact-finding mission with the view to set up a new OCIP (Overseas Community Involvement Project). On this trip, we hoped to learn more about this problem and seek opportunities to initiate a sustainable programme that will benefit these vulnerable women.
Project Kolkata student teaching girls handwashing techniques. Photo was taken in Love Home, a facility run by Touch Nature
At the request of Ms Tan, we organised a HIV/AIDs education programme for Touch Nature employees due to their lack of knowledge of the topic. Through the session, we managed to clear up misconceptions of the disease, which is particularly relevant as there are persons living with HIV working with them. Their history of being former sex workers predisposes them to the risk of contracting the sexually transmitted disease. English lessons were also conducted for girls in Love Home, which is also run by Touch Nature. Love Home houses and educates vulnerable girls aged 5-9 years old, who were born to mothers currently in the sex trade. We taught the girls simple English through teaching basic hygiene skills, like handwashing and teeth brushing, as well as playing simple games like Simon Says, so as to impart basic vocabulary.
Project Kolkata students listening to the opening address by Ms Tan, founder of Touch Nature
Overall, we established good rapport with potential future partners, identified key areas where we can develop programmes for the beneficiaries of the organisations, and acquired an understanding of existing healthcare services.
Part of the Sealdah Project run by Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta, this is a shelter where children living in the railway stations are having lunch
All in all, the recce trip was a resounding success and we look forward to discussing the plan ahead.
Project Kolkata members posing with the founders of Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta