Penarth charity worker set for third trip to India

First published in News

A PENARTH journalist and charity worker is planning to hold an exhibition of photographs and art in the town following his return from an upcoming visit to India.

Father-of-three Jem King hopes to stage the exhibition to raise awareness of the plight of children living in appalling conditions in rural southern India.

"I will be making my third visit to India with the UK-based charity Health and Education for All (HEAL) and intend to make good use of my time while visiting some of our poverty-trap projects in Andhra Pradesh," said Jem.

"My two previous trips were to take part in fundraising cycling events in 2010 and 2012, but this year I will have a very different agenda.

"I have seen and met people living in abject poverty and even been welcomed into their homes. I've come across entire families living in ramshackle constructions barely bigger than my own garden shed at home.

"It is astonishing how they remain so friendly and hospitable, even when forced to survive on little more than a couple of bowls of rice a day.”

He added: "Working as a volunteer for HEAL has been such an eye-opener for me and made me realise that the charity has got it spot-on in focusing its energies and resources on educating children caught in this perpetual cycle of poverty.

"Even if these families could afford to send their kids to school, they often stay at home to help their parents by working in the fields and quarries, performing manual labour from a very early age. HEAL helps to break that vicious cycle."

Jem has spent the past 12 months organising HEAL's latest major fundraiser.

"Cycle India is a bi-annual event which has proved very popular since it began back in 2008," said Jem.

"But bringing together 35 cyclists from as far afield as Western Australia and Fort Worth, Texas, not to mention all over the UK, has been a mighty big task.

"However, my main aim in making this trip is to take as many powerful photographs as possible to try to bring the full picture to potential supporters in Wales and beyond.

"I may not be a photo-journalist, but I am a keen amateur photographer and, to be honest, there are amazing pictures to be taken almost everywhere you turn in India, which is a country of such incredible contrasts.

"I also hope to bring back some of the HEAL children's art to put on show and would love to stage a small exhibition somewhere close to home like the Turner Gallery or Penarth Pier Pavilion."

To learn more about HEAL's work in providing shelter, healthcare and education to abandoned, orphaned and disadvantaged children in India, please visit www.heal.co.uk, or to make a donation go to www.JustGiving.com/Jem-King1

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