My journey with OSCAR began well before I came out to India, meeting Ashok and Lucinda at Brighton College. Their assembly opened my eyes to the work the organisation does and how vitally important education is. When I heard Ashok discussing the ever-expanding programmes for both boys and girls, I knew OSCAR had to be a priority for my gap year. I loved being a part of the UK tour in October 2019, first meeting the boys at Heathrow, travelling with them to their Steppes Travel welcome reception, and seeing them at Brighton College for a day, as well as at Go Ape Battersea. I made some really close friendships with some of the boys and it really encouraged me to push for more sponsorship as I could see how well the money raised would be used.
OSCAR International sets a fundraising target of £1,000, which seemed like a daunting task, but after careful planning, I came up with 3 different initiatives, a stall at my prep school’s Christmas fair, running the Mumbai Half Marathon and a trek to Everest Base Camp.
My stall at the Christmas fair focused on the sponsorship of OSCAR children, as well as selling items made in one of our partner programmes. The day was a success, in that I was able to raise awareness, and give people a new perspective on charities they could support.
In the run up to my flight to Mumbai, I trained as much as I could for the half marathon, as well as pushing my friends and family for more donations. I was also lucky enough to secure £420 from the Holmewood House Second Hand uniform shop, so a very big thank you to them! To date, I have raised just over £1600 for OSCAR, with the Everest trek still to come.
Whilst in Mumbai, I managed to get an iPad for OSCAR through my father’s work. It was amazing being able to present this to Ashok and the team. My month with OSCAR was incredible; the staff and children made all four volunteers very welcome and the work we did was very rewarding. The first two weeks flew past and before I knew it, I was getting up at 3am for the half marathon. I was a bit nervous but once I found my stride, it was great. The atmosphere, as well as the knowledge that my physical pain would benefit so many pushed me on, and thankfully I managed to finish!
I have two stand out moments from my trip: the first being asked to tutor OSCAR coaches in economics for their exams. It was truly humbling to see their eagerness to learn. Every single child and staff member is motivated to change their, or someone else’s life.
Another stand out moment was the Annual Football Day. For me, it showcases a small fraction of the work that OSCAR does. We had over 1800 children come through the various workshops over the course of a very long day and it really showed off the talent of the staff and children. Even after 12 hours on their feet, the staff were still motivated, and willing to play a big game of football at the end.
I was really sad to leave OSCAR, the month I spent there has made me certain that I will return very soon, to continue the work. It is a very special organisation, which looks out for both its staff and its children.