When I watched Slumdog Millionaire the extreme poverty had almost seemed staged.
As soon as we stepped outside the hotel the poverty in Kolkata was real and shocking.
Today we visited four rural villages which each had a new drop-in centre built through the Save the Children Reckitt Benckiser partnership. The drop-in centres were donated by Reckitt Benckiser, after the catastrophic cyclone which hit the region in 2009, to allow young village girls to learn sewing skills to help them gain work and not be sent to the city as maids. Today was the official opening of the four centres and we were asked to attend.
We began our two-hour car journey into the depths of rural Bengal. What a culture shock! A rickety dirt track, skinny cows roaming in the road, people hanging onto the outside of busses and no electricity for miles around!
We arrived at the first drop-in centre to see literally hundreds of children stood outside waiting for us and all waving. They were all lined up waiting to greet us with a handshake and to throw traditional confetti over us as a welcome. We couldn’t believe the reception; it was overwhelming.
It was emotional to see the ceremonial opening as this really is not just another building but a symbolic and real step forward to help these children.