Lifting people out of the slums

Shoreham College was visited last week by Ashok Rathod, one of the founders of the Oscar Foundation, a charity working with 4000 slum children aiming to change their world. He was here to discuss how the College could help in raising funds for the programme. 

The Oscar Foundation was first introduced to Shoreham College a few years ago. We collected dozens of out-grown football shirts from our pupils and Jon Trigg, the father of one our pupils, made the trip to Mumbai to help coach the kids at the foundation and present the shirts personally.

The College has since decided it would like to help lift the children out of the slums of Mumbai and the Oscar Foundation was voted for by the School Council as one of the charities we will raise funds for this year.

A child of the Mumbai slums himself, Ashok founded the organisation with a few friends, when he was just 18. His idea was to encourage children to play football, but they could only do so, if they promised to attend school. He then persuaded families to allow their girls to play too, and now thousands of children attend school and are mentored by teachers OSCAR provides. He has changed their world.

Ashok amazed Shoreham pupils by stories of the slums, descriptions of classes of 60 children with one teacher and families of 8 or more living in a few square meters of home. It was real eye opener for pupils in assemblies and geography lessons. Our pupils enjoyed meeting him and his colleagues and a wonderful moment was when he asked Year 5 and 6 what they felt pupils from India might learn if they come to our school. One suggested cricket. Ashok suggested we might learn more from them on that subject, which made us all laugh. He went on to teach pupils slum skills footie in the afternoon where everyone had great fun.

Asked what he felt at the end of his visit, Ashok said 'We have had a lovely day. It was an opportunity to learn for all of us'.

Headmaster Richard Taylor-West said, 'It was a wonderful chance to learn about how Ashok and his colleagues are changing lives, whilst at the same time broadening the outlook of our children too, and giving them a chance to contribute to the wider world beyond Sussex.'

Ashok is planning on bringing children over to the UK, from India, to do a mini football tour in October, when Shoreham College will be host to a team of 14-16 year old boys.