Donate & Sponsor


Friday 31 July 2015


The Down team are on–board their final flight from Dubai to Dublin. We have had a very successful trip and would like to share our final individual reflections with you.

Thomas Rose – Overall this trip has completely changed my view on the outside world and the impact I can have on it. I’ve discovered that it truly is the smallest things in life that give us the biggest amount of pleasure, and that true happiness doesn’t come from the things you own but from what you do with the things you have. The thing for me that I will always remember because it has been imprinted on my mind is that education is the most valuable thing to a person and no one should be be denied it as the amount of doors it opens in terms of opportunities is limitless.

Daniel McClean – The Saphara trip has been breathtaking to say the least. The friendships I’ve made that I can tell will be life long and the fact that I have met some incredibly inspirational people who will inspire me forever. The trip has been eye opening to me and I’ve experienced situations that have been truly extraordinary. This trip has definitely opened my eyes to the true value of education, allowing people to escape poverty and go on to do great things with their lives. It is said that travel is the only thing you can buy that will make oneself richer and I truly do feel that the people I have spent time with on this trip and the people I have met have changed my perspective so heavily that I am truly richer for it.

Tara Connolly – The Saphara trip to India has changed my life. Never before have I both laughed and cried so much in two weeks, all whilst meeting the most amazing and inspiring of people and sharing once–in–a–lifetime experiences with the Saphamily. But aside from all of that, the trip has truly opened my eyes to the key importance of  education in the lives of the children and young people I have met along the way. Whether it be in an isolated Himalayan primary school of 20 pupils or a thriving city school of over a thousand, the impact made by education and Saphara is imprinted on the young people, and is a privilege to witness. I have truly been blessed to be a part of such a incredible experience.

Hannah McGeown – Before I came on this trip we were all told that no matter who you are that this journey will impact your life in many ways, I never really believed it until now. The journey is hard to explain, from the exhausting heat to the many different smells to the impact a single child can have on your whole outlook on things you barely took the time to think about. I can say that on this journey, which I was lucky enough to take alongside amazing people, has impacted me for the better. I am very thankful I was picked to go on this journey and I have benefited from it immensely.

Megan Mc Alinden – Never in my life have I experienced something as amazing and properly life changing as this trip has been, I can’t put into words how honoured I am to have been chosen.  I have met some amazing people in India: a lot of which would be the children I was teaching and the inspiring people I was introduced to such as Surender and Nadesh. I’ve also loved making new friendships and becoming closer in our team because we were relying on each other to keep us going. Constantly doing things such as walks, and lesson planning ect made the weeks go very quickly, and but the fact that the time went so quickly is my only fault of the trip. Honestly it has been one of the best few weeks of my life and I would so highly recommend it to everyone.

Harry McCormick – I can truly stand by my belief that Saphara has had a profound impact on my life. Never did I imagine that this experience would be as fulfilling and emotional as it has turned out to be and not once have I regretted my decision to apply. The teaching was not only enjoyable but showed us first hand the difference that is being made through education. The people I have met such as Nadesh and Dr Reeta haveI been inspirational and I can also say I learnt just as much from the kids we taught. Saphara has been an unforgettable experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. 

Julia Maginn – Travelling to India with Saphara has been a life changing experience and I’ve been lucky to share it with such a great team. I’ve met so many inspirational people who have made a lasting impression.The time spent teaching in Anurag, Kaplani, Donk and SNEHA opened my eyes to the benefit education can have and how truly important it is. Seeing children come from such poverty but still have a smile on their face and be so enthusiastic to learn made me realise how fortunate I am to have my education. So much has been packed in to only 16 days and my only complaint is that it went too quickly. I feel very fortunate to have been part of such an experience and witness the great work Saphara does.

Brad Kirk – Before the trip when asked what it was that we were doing with Saphara, I would tell people that we were going out to teach the children English. Sadly, I only told half the story because we gained from the experience just as much as the children themselves. They opened doors to their future through education and the burning desire to make something of their lives, whilst we got a lesson on the simplicity and deeper meaning of life and the essence of being content with a smile and the company of one another rather than being absorbed in the world of material wealth and social media. Furthermore the connections and bonds made with the team will last a life time and the many, many laughs shared are something to be treasured. It really was a ‘journey with purpose’ and it was an honour to be a part of it.

Ross Connolly – It’s difficult to put into words what a fantastic trip Saphara has been. Prior to the trip I did not anticipate the impact it would have on my entire worldview. The things you see, hear and do are experiences which are unparallelled to anything I could have ever seen myself having the privilege to be a part of. The team formed an instant bond and this only continued to grow as the journey went on. The impact that education is having on the children we met is staggering. It gives them hope, and empowers them to make a good life for themselves, and it was this that truly gave us a sense that what we were doing was totally worthwhile and valuable. Meeting people like Surender Singh and Dr Reeta Rao was incredibly inspirational. These were people who had dedicated their entire lives to the wellbeing of others. I would like to thank everyone who donated and otherwise helped to make this possible, and just again highlight what an absolutely tremendous time I have had.

Conal Murnin – ”Life changing” was a phrase I had heard many times in the run up to our trip to India but I don’t think any of us could have anticipated the profound impact the experience has had on us. I’ve felt utterly inspired by people like Surrender Singh and Dr Reeth Rao who have dedicated whole lives to educating disadvantaged children. The kids themselves were incredible. Despite their situation, their enthusiasm and willingness to learn and engage with us was phenomenal. I’ve also been totally blown away by the strong friendships formed among our team, teachers included, many of which I know will last for life. To share this experience with so many fantastic people was a complete privilege, and I would like to thank everyone who made it possible especially those who supported us from home with donations and prayer. Saphara has had an impact on me that I am sure will last a lifetime and I urge anyone thinking of applying to go for it.

Hannah Davidson – Now at the end of our trip I have realised how much It has impacted me and it has truly been a life changing experience. We have met so many truly inspiring children who are so committed to their education, and so many teachers who are dedicated to allowing those children to have the opportunity to learn.I would like to thank everyone who donated so generously to Saphara every penny really does have such a significant impact on the lives of the people Saphara help. I know that the impact this trip has had on me will continue to affect me for the rest of my life.

Conor Wilson – I think I speak for everyone on the team when I say that our Saphara experience has been nothing short of incredible. I was certainly a bit cynical when I was first told what a life–changing journey ours was set to be, as “life–changing” is a term thrown around so much, but mine has absolutely changed my outlook. We have all become so close as a team, and moreover I could not have imagined just how invested I would become in our lessons for the pupils of Kaplani, Donk and Sneha. The students themselves are phenomenal, and they truly value the education they have been given – seeing where the money goes allows me to assure all of Saphara’s generous supporters that their contributions really are making a difference. Much as I believe there is no more worthy cause than Saphara and its partnerships with Surender Singh and Dr Reeta Rao, I have learned not to pity the people I have met – they have so little yet they are immensely proud of their homes and possessions, and we have much to learn in the West from their worldview. This has truly been an experience that will stay with me forever.

Aileen Gallagher – You never think it’s actually going to happen when people say ‘Saphara will change your life’, and although it sounds like a cliché these are the truest words ever spoken. Saphara is an experience like no other. On no other trip will you experience such fulfillment, meet such amazing people and learn so much. The children I have met and have been lucky enough to teach are incredible. Their enthusiasm to learn, the love that they show and their effort and ambition is indescribable. After Saphara you truly realise education is the key to changing the lives of those trapped in the cycle of poverty. The past 16 days have flown in, but have been the most amazing 16 days and I hope some day I have the opportunity to come back to India. I would like to thank all those who supported me in any way with my  fundraising. I saw first hand the different that every penny collected makes. Saphara was an unbelievable trip spent with the most wonderful people; once a saphamily always a saphamily.

Emma Leahy – Being able to travel to India with Saphara has been such a privilege and incredible experience that by simply writing about it does not do it justice. The people and students we met and formed relationships with in Kalplani, Donk and Sneha are the most amazing individuals and have taught me and the rest of the wonderful team so much during our time with them. Their capacity of love for others, their few possessions and education was simply phenomenonal. Every student turned up to school eager to learn, their enthusiasm was incredible and taught me so much about what should be truely valued in life. The Saphara trip has been life changing, filled with memories and experiences that will stay with me for forever.

Maebh Canavan – A ‘life changing experience’ is a phrase you commonly hear when speaking to Saphara students and only now I am realising I never took the time to digest the true meaning of that phrase. Coming to India with such an enthusiastic team has benefited not only us but hopefully the students at Anurag, Kaplani, Donk and Sneha. Their willingness and eagerness to learn is incredible and has made me realise how much I take for granted. Less truly means more when you see the pride gleaming on the faces of the kids in Donk and the marginalised community when showing us their homes. I have learnt not to pity the people we have encountered as pity will not change the lives of these people but empowerment and resources will. The Saphara team, I hope, have reached out to kids, teaching them that education is everything and determination and imagination can go a long way. Not only has teaching given me immense happiness, but the hilarious memories and friendships formed on this team I will carry home with me forever. Thank you Saphara for opening my eyes to what truly matters and seeing the potential young people have to be able to engage with these incredible children.

Toni Dinu – When asked what Saphara was in the past I often explained wrong. I would tell others Saphara was a team of students travelling to India to teach under privileged children english, but Saphara is much more than that. Saphara is a not only an eye opening journey but a special one. It allows those who have had the privilege of being chosen for the team to inspire the lives of others who have lost ambition, to allow a smile to carry a child along the right path of education and also to alllow themselves to grow within. Many people say Saphara changes the lives of the young people but this I don’t believe. We as the Down Team all applied for Saphara with the right intentions and open hearts. Saphara does not change you but simply helps you see the person you should be.  Every child or adult I’ve met on this trip has inspired me, and every friendship I’ve made I will treasure forever. Many might see Saphara as a life changing trip but for me it was the push I needed to realise that the real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations and that we have the ability to overcome that through the power of education.  There are no words to describe my time in India and I wouldn’t change one minute of it. Thank you Saphara, the trip may not last forever but the memories and friendships will.

Lauren Rice – It seems like a cliché to say that Saphara changes your life and until coming on the trip I believed it was nothing more than that. Thinking back on what we as a team have experienced in the last 16 days is unforgettable . Whilst teaching the children in Anurag, Kaplani, Donk and Sneha helped encourage their learning and development I think everyone would agree that they equally taught us so much about ourselves and our own lives.  Their enthusiasm and excitement about learning has opened my eyes to value what is really important in life. There are many people on the trip who have made a lasting impression on my life and have helped me to see life in a different way. Those children who trek for up to 2 hours every morning just to get to school taught me a lot about the value of education and how we tend to take it for granted. Saphara is an amazing organisation that really does empower the young people it works with, allowing them to believe in a future for themselves. I have been so lucky to experience such wonderful things with such an incredible team of people. Words can’t possibly describe all that we have experienced over the last 16 days but the memories we have and the friendships we have made will last forever. Thank you Saphara.

Beth Toner – When challenged with the question ‘What’s the difference between charity and empowerment?’ I was left wondering in my own thoughts. However I’ve come to realise that there is a significant difference. Why couldn’t we have donated the money we paid for flights, hotels and taxis to those most in need in the marginalised communities? The answer is very simple. Saphara, although it presents itself to be a charity to those less familiar, focuses on empowerment. Empowering the children by showing love and giving them the opportunity for success and  empowering teachers who put immense effort into teaching these children. Therefore, the answer I dictated after long deliberation was that a charity provides financial aid to help those who require it which is often effective in the short term but we do not see where the money may go. Empowerment as I stated above allows for long term opportunities; opportunities that we helped create in the last 16 days. I would like to thank everyone who donated and supported me through my journey with purpose.

Aisling McCann – To say that the Saphara trip has changed my life is such an understatement that I know what I write will in no way begin to describe just how amazing it is. It is not something that can be summed up in a few words. It is an incredible, and indescribable experience. From the children I met in Kaplani, Anurag, Donk and SNEHA, who had so little but gave so much to me and the rest of the team through their happiness and enthusiasm towards their education which they value so much, to the rest of the team who have helped me so much and made this trip better than I ever thought it could be. People often ask, ‘Why not just give money to the schools? Why go out and teach them?’ and before this trip I never had an answer to this question, but but now I do. The difference you can make to a child’s life simply by coming to their school and connecting with them is unbelievable and makes a huge impact. I would like to thank everyone who supported me and donated to the charity as it has done so much. I would also like to thank Saphara for allowing me to have this amazing experience that I will never forget.

Matthew Graham – Without doubt this trip has been the greatest experience of my 17 years of life so far. I have been faced with numerous challenges during our time in India which at times were tough to overcome but these were far outweighed by the good times and the visible results of Saphara’s hard work. It is hard to imagine the impact a small team of teachers and pupils can have on the vulnerable communities that we met until you experience it for yourself. The beaming smiles of the children of Kaplani, Donk and Sneha when we arrived in the mornings was something I’d never experienced before and something I will never forget.

Posted in Down 2015 Team
on Friday 31 July 2015