Our Story

Calcutta Connect is a non-governmental organisation founded in 2010 by past Coláiste Éanna India Immersion Project pupils. Our committee comprises individuals from various backgrounds who can draw upon their experience to enhance our work. We work towards alleviating poverty by supporting the education of children and young people from some of the poorest communities in Calcutta and surrounding districts.

One of the first areas we provided help to in 2010 was to support older students in the latter stages of their education. The costs involved with the final years of schooling can be beyond what many families from poorer backgrounds can afford. Many students were dropping out of school due to these costs. We began our student sponsorship programme to help older students remain in school and complete their education. The programme has seen great success, with many students finishing their board exams and pursuing higher studies.

The projects we had exposure to before 2010 were those funded by another Irish NGO called Friends of Calcutta. Their programme was in marginalised communities in Kolkata, where many of our committee had volunteered. With this link, we decided these projects and their older students would be one of the first areas we would assist.

In 2017, we began supporting Panikhali Rural Development Society (PRDS) in their work. Their project is in a rural community called Panikhali, 70km south of Kolkata. PRDS aims to provide preschool education and follow-up coaching and help local women. Since 2017, we have expanded our work with PRDS. We work with PRDS to fund their three education centres programme with 1211 students enrolled.

With the number of students growing in the PRDS centres, it became clear we would need to expand their capacity. In 2019, with PRDS, we began planning to expand or construct new buildings in each community. Between 2019 and 2022, we assisted PRDS in redeveloping their centres to cater to growing student numbers. Classes now take place throughout the day for students of all ages.

Our final construction project was of the Skill Training, Empowerment and Medical Centre. The building, located in Panikhali Village, is 200 metres from the school building. The centre aims to train local people with a skill they can use to generate an income. There is also a dedicated medical room where doctors can visit for community health check-ups.

In the PRDS centres, 1211 students of all ages are enrolled, and 58 staff are employed. It is a great source of pride for us to see the continued expansion of the projects, improvement in the infrastructure and growing positive outcomes for so many students.