Year 8 students participated in an eye-opening and transformative immersive workshop facilitated by Empathy Action, a volunteer organisation specialising in immersive workshops to shed light on the challenges faced by marginalised communities worldwide.  

The workshop aimed to broaden students’ understanding of global poverty, providing them with firsthand experiences and insights into the realities faced by those living in impoverished conditions. 

As part of their Literacy for Life (L4L) India theme, students were transported into the realities faced by families in the Dharavi area of Mumbai. Divided into family units, they grappled with the daily struggles of survival. 

Students learned the art of making paper bags, which they ‘sold’ to raise funds for necessities such as rent, food and water. This hands-on activity provided a tangible glimpse into the challenges faced by millions worldwide in accessing these basic amenities and the conditions endured. 

One student shared: “I was exhausted after, and it made me feel grateful for what I have. It made us feel about just how lucky we are to not live in those conditions. It also showed us how hard work in Dharavi is very important.” 

Another student recounted: “I had to sell my shoes and tie just to have enough money for food, water and to pay rent.” 

Throughout the day, students fully immersed themselves in the activity, from navigating merchant stalls to experiencing the pressures exerted by landlords. Despite the challenges presented, they embraced the experience with thoughtfulness, reflection and empathetic understanding. 

The workshop not only provided a glimpse into the harsh realities of poverty but also sparked a sense of solidarity and concern among students for those living in marginalised communities.  

 “It made me feel grateful for where I live, and it made me feel worried for the people who live in slums that they call home,” said one student. 

Empathy Action commended students for their engagement and empathetic approach, underscoring the importance of empathy in addressing global challenges and fostering a more inclusive society. The lessons learned from this experience are sure to leave a lasting impact on students’ perspectives and actions towards creating a more compassionate world.