Save the Children and Bulgari Ambassador Luke Evans travelled to India, which has the largest population of people living in poverty in the world, to visit two of the charity’s vital education programmes supporting vulnerable and marginalised children.
The visit allowed him to see first-hand how the money raised by fundraising campaigns like Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day and partners like Bulgari can help support children living in India who are missing out on a basic education.
Almost 18 million children in India do not receive an education – the highest number of any country in the world. Most children drop out of school because they need to earn money for their family so they are forced into child labour or because they have to stay at home to care for their younger siblings. Often even those who are fortunate enough to be enrolled in school cannot read or write properly by the age of 10 as the quality of schooling is poor. Without an education, many children will be trapped in poverty for the rest of their lives, unable to fulfil their potential and with little chance of a successful future.
Luke visited one of the most vulnerable slum communities in Mumbai which surrounds the Deonar land-fill site – the biggest dumping ground in Asia where the mountains of rubbish reach twenty meters deep. Many parents of the children living in these slums work on the garbage dump, sorting and selling rubbish and very few children have the opportunity to go to school. To support these vulnerable children, Save the Children has established a Mobile Learning Centre – a bus which has been transformed into a classroom. This bus is taken into these communities to give children the opportunity to access an education and to ensure that any child who has fallen behind in their education is given the chance to get back up to speed so they can return to school at the appropriate level for their age.
Luke also visited a Save the Children education programme in Pune which has been developed in partnership with Bulgari – one of the charity’s global partners. As a Bulgari Ambassador, Luke was keen to see the impact their funding has had. Thanks to Bulgari, Save the Children has been able to reach almost 155,000 children across 245 schools – ensuring they receive a quality education and have the best start in life.
Commenting on his visit to India, Luke, whose Hollywood blockbusters include The Hobbit, The Girl on the Train and the highly anticipated Beauty and the Beast, said: “It’s wrong that there are children growing up today who will never read a book, never write a letter or do basic maths. I visited one of the most deprived slum communities in Mumbai, where many children don’t get the chance to go to school. It was heart-breaking to see the terrible conditions that these children live in – the extreme levels of poverty in India have been totally shocking to me.”
Among the children Luke met was Raja*, who is 14 years old. When Raja moved to Mumbai three years ago aged 11, he was forced to work in a local garment factory to supplement his family income. He had to work very long hours so was unable to attend school. Save the Children intervened and persuaded Raja’s parents to send him to school and thanks to the Mobile Learning Centre, he was able to catch up on his education. Raja now attends school regularly and dreams of becoming a scientist.
Luke continued: "Seeing the impact that Save the Children’s programmes are having on the lives of these children is incredible. To see the smiles on their faces when they read and write and know that they’ll have a better life as a result is amazing. I’m so proud to be an Ambassador for Save the Children and Bulgari – their partnership is making such a big difference to these children’s lives.
“My visit to India will stay with me forever and I urge you to join me in supporting Save the Children this Christmas. All you have to do is wear a Christmas Jumper on Friday 16th December and donate £2 – you’ll be helping to make a massive difference to the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.”
Luke Evans is encouraging the UK public to sign up and donate to Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day to ensure the charity can continue doing whatever it takes to make sure the world’s forgotten children have a brighter future.