When we arrived in Kolkata we were struck by all the beautiful buildings and the fabulous roads. While some areas of the city are as organised and clean as cities in Europe, when we delved deeper we met many more scenes of what we were used to in other Indian cities. Class and caste are very evident in Kolkata with luxury car dealerships, exclusive shopping malls and restaurants alongside slums and street dwellers. Our tour ended in Kolkata and I stayed on myself for an extra 5 days. I spent 3 of those days in the Loreto School Sealdah.
Loreto School Sealdah
As I had nearly a week in Kolkata I decided to visit a school. I was lucky to have a contact in the Loreto School Sealdah and was warmly welcomed for 3 days. I sat in on different classes and gave a few maths lessons myself.
A Sr Cyril Mooney from Ireland had just retired as principal. She had left a lasting legacy in this private, fee paying girls school. Now almost half the pupils have their fees sponsored by donors. She set up the Rainbow Project which involves the pupils in Rainbow Teaching. Saddened by the sight of street children every day while she drove her scooter, Sr Cyril decided that the school building should be used at night as well. The rainbow children stay overnight and are fed. Some are educated in the school and others who have started late or have difficulty learning English, attend the Bengali school. There was stigma attached to certain children due to their parents profession/background. The Loreto school sends a bus to these areas each morning, brings these children to the school (if they're not boarders) and they go from there to the Bengali school or the Loreto school. They are known as the Rainbow children and nobody knows they're background.
There is a huge emphasis in the school on social awareness. Some year groups tutor the rainbow children, another year group travels to rural public schools once a week to provide tutoring and the teachers train teachers in public schools. The amount of programmes and initiatives Sr Cyril put in place as principal are too numerous to mention. She is still in India helping to develop the intiatives she started to a national level.
Loreto nun brings education to girls living on the streets of Kolkata Nov 2015
Irish Loreto nun champions ‘inclusive schools’ in India July 2015
Farewell to a favourite teacher Dec 2011
Sister Cyril Mooney's work has brought education to 450,000 street children Bray's own Mother Theresa' makes trip home from India Oct 2007