Founded in 1994 by a group of returned volunteers, Friends of Calcutta is a totally voluntary Irish Registered Charity. We are privileged to support the education of approx 800 students in our 3 schools in the bustees (slums) of Kolkata, as well as supporting a large school in the Sunderbans which is located 100 km from the city. Together with our team of 34 Indian staff, we endeavour on an ongoing basis to meet the needs and expectations of both our students and their parents to realise their maximum potential. 100% of ALL donations received go directly to fund our work in West Bengal.
Built in 1996, Topsia was our first school. Many of the people living in this area are migrants from neighbouring states of West Bengal who came to Kolkata in search of work. We are extremely proud to see so many of our students enter college and take up university placements. Given the circumstances in which they live, this is a tremendous achievement, proving that economic conditions need not undermine the spirit of dreaming big.
Built in 1997, the Tangra Center is located in the heart of the former municipal garbage dump. Our students are mainly children of local rag pickers who make a living by recycling plastic, leather and rubber. Over the years, early dropout rates have improved significantly to now being practically zero and the number of students continuing their education to third level is constantly increasing.
Located in the city's Docklands area, Khidderpore School is a light of hope for the future dreams of students who are children of migrant workers. The School opened in 1999 and has become a wonderful hub of learning and activity. It is in this school in 2018 that we launched our first Adult Literacy Programme for parents & grandparents. In 2020 we were delighted to welcome our great friends, the NGO Calcutta Rescue, to serve the medical needs of this special community on an ongoing basis.
We are so proud to take the name of our former Tangra Student Priya, an ambitious future attorney who recently completed her final semester at a premium institution. Priya is now our legal advisor as well as a founding member of the Tangra FOC board.
Let us introduce Nasir. A brilliant ex-student of Topsia School since the age of 3. Nasir completed his studies of a Masters Degree in Political Science. We are proud to have him as the newest member of our teaching staff in his beloved Topsia School.
Salim attended Khidderpore before pursuing his graduation in commerce while arranging adult literacy classes for parents and grandparents who never had the support to attend school. He recently returned from working in Kuwait. We look forward to his continued support.
We are very proud of the 52 apprentices who are learning tailoring & handicraft. The three diamond centres are located in Topsia, Tangra, Khidderpore. Each graduate will ultimately receive a sewing machine on completion of the course. Our trainees make all uniforms for our junior students and accept extz`ernal orders. An annual highlight is the Handicraft Award Night held in the Hot Wok restaurant in Chinatown. The handicraft talents of all the trainees are on display during this most enjoyable evening and there is great excitement as to whose innovative design will capture the much coveted Sheela Sengupta award.
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