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Ilford volunteer travels to the slums of Mumbai to help disabled children

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 September 2017

Gita Patel at her home in Ilford with her charity walk medal and fundraising bucket. (Credit: Melissa Page)

Gita Patel at her home in Ilford with her charity walk medal and fundraising bucket. (Credit: Melissa Page)

Archant

A woman from Ilford who is passionate about special needs has spent the last two years raising money for disabled children in Mumbai

Gita Patel, who works as a special education needs teaching assistant in Redbridge, tackled the Thames Bridge Trek on Saturday.

The passionate fundraiser walked 25km along 16 of London’s bridges in order to raise funds for a school that rescues disabled children from a life in the slums.

Gharkul, which means home, educates children with autism, Down’s syndrome, learning difficulties and other special needs, who are often neglected by their families.

Many of the children live under bridges or in slums and the school, which offers education for free, is a respite for the low-income families.

Gita, 52, became aware of the school about two years ago after coming across them on Facebook.

She said: “I work as SEN teaching assistant with children in Ilford who are exactly the same.

“At first, I started sending them links showing them how to support the children and I just started to think about how I could help more.”

The school in Mumbai, which was founded by social worker Sunil Satpute, receives no government funding and runs from a small building.

“What they do is amazing, they work so hard,” added Gita.

After getting in touch with the teachers, she started having regular chats with the school.

The dedicated volunteer, who regularly fundraises for five charities close to her heart, decided to travel over to the school in August.

She said: “For the last year, my life has come to a standstill as I have been focusing on Gharkul.

“Visiting the school was amazing, the children were so happy.

“They have so many things stacked up against them but they always have a smile on their face.

“They have so little but they make do.”

Gita also helped the staff at the school by packing lots of educational materials that will help the children.

She said: “They couldn’t believe this sort of stuff existed! They were delighted.”

Now she is hoping to reach her goal of raising £3,000 for the school. If you would like to donate, ammado.com/community/191651.

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