Humbling visit to Indian orphanage

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker on a trip to Hope Children's Community in India
Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker on a trip to Hope Children's Community in India

My annual holiday is a rare opportunity to down tools, discard the suit, no Blackberry, very little internet - and definitely do nothing that even begins to resemble work!

This summer is a little different. In parliament, I chair three All Party Parliamentary Groups - Looked After Children & Care Leavers; Fostering & Adoption; and Street Children. This is as well as my duties on the Education Select Committee.

So when I was invited to go to see a children’s orphanage in Kerala in Southern India, it sealed this year’s holiday destination.

So, rucksack packed with my fading tee shirts and shorts, boat shoes and flip flops - I set off to witness what turned out to be an amazing, innovative and fulfilling project. One from which we could learn in the UK on how we treat and look after our children in care.

What is more amazing about this wonderful project is that it was started by a Calder Valley businessman. He had for many years traded with this part of India, and on selling his company on retirement decided that he wanted to give something back to the community there.

The result was the ‘Hope Children’s Community’. The outcomes for the young people who live there are amazing, with every child having aspiration for their future.

Not only that but the project gives every child a stable mother, a home, three meals a day, activities galore and, most importantly, a huge focus on their education and well-being.

In our UK society where we often tend to knock those who have done well and succeeded.

I just had to mention this particular businessman from the Calder Valley who has invested an awful lot of time and money into helping that community of children in India.

We must not only recognise, but also celebrate the good things that many of our successful people do, and very often for no accolade.

People who often also inspire others to do so much good too, as looking at the visitors’ book there have been visits from dozens of people from all over the Calder Valley who come and support this incredibly worthwhile charity.

Yes, I still downed tools for most of my holiday, but I can tell you I feel so much more humble and enriched because of this visit, which enabled me to see first-hand the many Calder Valley contributions to the Hope Children’s Community in Kerala.