Kirkintilloch Girlguiding member Emma Hart saw first hand how Indian slum dwellers battle for daily survival during a remarkable aid trip.
The 31-year-old was in a seven-strong Scottish squad taking part in an international project to better the lives of underprivileged women and children.
It brought them face to face with levels of squalor and deprivation seldom experienced in European countries.
But at the same time the unforgettable trip to the west Indian region of Maharashtra was a once in a lifetime experience of a fascinating and exotic culture.
Emma found herself immersed in the street culture of Pune , where lack of resou rces brings extra hardship to the most vulnerable.
Together with leaders and girls from Germany, Ireland and Canada she worked on schemes including the Door Step School, which provides education and support to the children of people who live in slums or literally on the stret.
It also helps other underpriviliged families, and provides a creche for local children.
The team also helped out at a project for destitute families, repainting the building where the project is based.
Their busy programme also included working at a school for visually impaired boys, where they helped develop sensory boards for the children to use, and at a creche for the children of building site workers.
At the start of the trip the group took part in “Be the Change” preparation sessions for their volunteering role.
Emma said: “Being able to travel to India with Girlguiding was both a great adventure and a privilege.”
“I loved working with Guides from other countries during our time at our community project and forming new friendships.”
Besides giving people in dire need some practical assistance, Emma and her fellow Guiders had time to explore temples and visit markets.
They learned cultural details such as how to tie a sari, and were treated to a traditional feast from the Maharashtra region (whose capital, Mumbai, has a population of around 18 million).
Emma added: “Visiting Pune and being able to make a difference in the community was an amazing experience.
“Being given the opportunity to take part in projects like this is why I love being part of guiding.”
To find out more about Girlguiding Scotland’s international opportunities please check out www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk.