Mhairi’s mission to India

A YOUNG woman who hopes to become a lawyer has spoken of how a trip to India changed her life.

Mhairi McAulay, a former student at Priestley College, worked with the Kamla Foundation and the FORD Trust, which aims to expand opportunities for poor and vulnerable people in India.

The 18-year-old – who delivered stationery to local schools that was paid for by her former college cohort – said the most memorable experience was working with a women’s support group.

“In particular I will remember the mother of a young girl who had a birth defect that left her with a half-formed leg who was unable to afford medical assistance,” said Mhairi.

“The child was so ashamed of her defect and seemed so helpless, as she was no doubt bullied, and the group didn’t have the necessary funds to help her.”

The former Bridgewater High School pupil was in India to observe the state of human rights and female empowerment in rural areas, as well as help with the day-to-day running of the charity.

She travelled alone, but worked with a local team and stayed in the leader’s house during her three-week visit.

“It was strange in that I washed my clothes in a concrete basin outside, I ate curry for all three meals with my hands, and I spent the evenings playing board games with their son,” said Mhairi.

“It wasn’t uncommon for a cow to wander into the grounds of the house, at which point we would all just move away until it wanted to leave.”

Mhairi, who studied French, English and Politics at Priestley, is passionate about human rights and hopes to secure a career as a criminal prosecution or child protection lawyer.

She is now studying for a Dual Qualifying Scots and English Law LLB at Dundee University.

“I have lasting memories in terms of the different culture that I experienced; anyone who has been to India knows that driving is a terrifying experience, but one which you become accustomed to,” said Mhairi.

“I will never forget being asked by everyone I met if I was married and how my family had allowed me to take this trip alone as a young girl. Having had this experience I am grateful every day for little things like being able to go out of the house alone and to attend school to the highest level.”

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