Cathy O’Shaughnessy Hope Fund

In 2017 my family and I set up ‘The Cathy O’Shaughnessy Hope Fund’, as a way of marking Cathy’s life and at the same time, improving the lives of street and slum children in Kolkata (Calcutta ), India.
A staggering 250,000 children in Kolkata, India, are living on the streets with little or no shelter. To survive, they scavenge in rubbish dumps to find scraps to sell, or beg on the streets. Most are not in school and have poor health. Many of these children have been abandoned and are at high risk of abuse, exploitation and child trafficking. As a family, we looked at the Hope Foundation’s operations inside the slums and on the streets, as they bring life-changing services and support to Kolkata’s poorest children. The Foundation has inspired us with its invaluable work which brings about positive and direct sustainable change to these children’s lives.
After meeting Hope Foundation founder and honorary director Maureen Forrest, and having seen the amazing work they do in Kolkata, we decided to partner with them.
Working with the Foundation, our goal is to break the cycle of poverty, through the provision of healthcare, crèches, counselling, life skills, training, drugs re-
habilitation, access to education and to give children access to whatever supports are needed.
The tangible results which Hope achieves, are the inspiration which urged us to action. Thus, in 2017, our initial project was ‘Gariahat Nabo Asha’, for which we raised €14,000 out of the €21,000 total budget required to fully fund it. Our funding enabled 52 street children to have food and education for one year
Later this year the Cathy O’Shaughnessy Creche will open in Panchanantala, this is both an extension of our interest in assisting street children under 6 years of age and a statement of future commitment to them. The number of child beneficiaries (all under 6 years old) who will benefit from this project over the full year will be 50.
Our plan is that this will be a long term commitment by us, as we feel this would be in the best interest of the children and would also ensure that Cathy’s memory will have a lasting impact on many children …… for a long time to come. Towards this end we have been fundraising again and our web site, ( was set up both to publicise the fundraising events and to enable people to donate to the Fund.
To get a better insight into the situation in Kolkata myself and my daughter Gemma decided to visit the Hope Foundation Projects in Kolkata on March 29th, to see first-hand where our funding was going .
We spent a week there visiting the various projects that Hope have set up, and saw first-hand some of the amazing work being done by the Hope Foundation
We visited the school in Gariahat that we had funded and met the street children. We also got to visit a crèche which will be similar to the Cathy O’Shaughnessy Creche.
The street and slum children in Kolkata have nothing, no education, no future, no hope, they live in the worst conditions I have ever seen, surrounded by rats and filth.
Their families have never had an opportunity to get education, and the children are destined to follow exactly the same path, living on the streets or in the slums, barely existing.
But we also spoke to the children in the Hope Projects, and thanks to education and good nutrition they see themselves breaking out from this cycle of ongoing poverty.
We have decided to concentrate on the very young children, aged 2-6, in the Cathy O’Shaugh-nessy Creche. We feel that we can give this children the first step to having a real future. When they will finish in our Creche at 6 years of age they will then go on the Hope Foundation Schools, and so continue a journey which will lead them to a good education.This will then mean that they will get good jobs, and have a future that they would otherwise never have.
One great example of this was a girl we met who had just qualified as a solicitor, having come into the Hope system as a very young child. We also spoke to two 16 year old girls who were on course to becoming a nurse and a teacher respectively.
Without the support of organisations like Hope these children would be destined to a life of abject poverty, living on the streets and in the slums.
So having seen ourselves the impact that can be had with a proper support system, we are very much looking forward to the opening of the Cathy O’Shaughnessy Creche later this year, and giving these children the chance to take the first step to having a future that they deserve.