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Case Study - Catherine Chiles

Cathy and Amar with the childrenRMCH staff nurse Catherine Chiles is planning a trip to Calcutta in 2013. Along with three other health professionals including two from RMCH, the PICU nurse is travelling to the slums of Topsia in Kolkata to support Kolkata Bhalobashi Foundation. (KBF)

The 29-year-old from Salford went to India with Tearfund, a leading relief and development charity eight years ago and met Amar Khalid who not only lives there, but was also volunteering. She kept in touch with him and he then set up the foundation in 2006.

She said: "I have had the privilege of supporting this project financially for a number of years, and was able to visit it for the first time in October 2011. Currently, it continues due to a small number of supporters dotted around the globe who pay for the food, water and teachers' wages between them. However, it would be amazing to be able to see the project grow and to be able to help more children and families in the slum. I have been considering organising a trip in order to raise awareness of KBF's work for a couple of years, and following my visit in 2011, I have now begun to plan this together with Amar."

Rented building for the projectThe project's aim is to facilitate an education for children living in the slum, whose families would otherwise be unable to afford this. This is achieved by providing a basic education in English and Bengali in order for the children to reach a standard where they can be admitted to the local formal school. Admission to this school has a small fee in addition to the cost of books, stationery and uniform, which has to be covered by KBF. In addition to facilitating this, KBF also provides a daily snack and clean drinking water for the children while they attend the project. For those children who are admitted into the formal school, the relationship with KBF continues, as they come back to the project after school for help with homework (and to enjoy their snack!).

Cathy, who has worked at RMCH for four years, all in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, added: "Amar and his wife Sathi also seek to maintain good relationships with the families in the slum by regularly visiting the children in their homes. Amar pays for the children to be seen by a doctor if required but his funds are limited, so this is sometimes not possible. In 2011, there were 35 children coming to the project but this number is growing!"

Children having their snackCathy will be travelling to Topsia for two weeks with RMCH nurses Fiona Heap and Ruth Ellicott and Salford Royal pharmacist Monika Wiselka but would like to take more people with her to encourage more interest and support for KBF.

In the first week, they will observe the project to orientate themselves by seeing how things work and getting to know the children. In the second week, the group will organise a holiday club with arts and craft activities, stories and songs.

Cathy said: "the children really want to go to the zoo as they have never doTopsia Slumne anything like that before as their parents and Amar can't afford to take them!"

The group will also take and distribute a collection of products including toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap for the children attending KBF, and educate them about basic health and hygiene.