A kind-hearted Blackpool couple travelled thousands of miles to offer a helping hand to orphaned children living in poverty in India.
Carol and Leonard Fowler, from Layton, spent three weeks in the city of Tenali in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh handing out food, clothes and toys to youngsters at a church-run orphanage in January.
Carol, 58, said: “We heard about working with orphaned children and we just felt like we wanted to go and see how we could help them.
“We went last January and, having seen the poverty. We were back within six weeks. This is our third trip in 12 months.
“The children have got a boys room and a girls room. There’s no beds, they sleep on mats on the floor. When they come home from school they have to wash their clothes by hand under a water pump. They had nothing but they always had a smile for you.
“We gave them clothes and toys and colouring books, which they absolutely loved. One little boy was about seven-years-old and we gave him some little cars and he sat there playing for hours. It was just a joy to watch him play.”
The couple also handed out money for food and clothes to nearby residential homes, and on a previous visit funded a new water well to be built in the city.
Leonard, 73, said: “We’re trying to do the little that we can do for the poorest of the poor. The children all go to school six days a week and every evening they have two hours of homework. They are trying to better themselves but it’s very difficult.
“You come out of the airport in splendour and a couple of miles down the road it is absolute poverty. People are washing their clothes in the river and living in mud huts. You see children running around with nothing but the clothes they’ve got on.
“The first time we went over one little girl gave us a couple of silver coins and that really touched us because compared to us she had nothing. It’s a very humbling experience. You just wish you had a big chequebook and you could change their whole lives.”
The father-of-five added: “We want to build two more water wells and a church, and help at the orphanage as much as we can. I want to keep going for as long as I am able to. If it comes to the point where I am too old to travel I’m sure one of our children will go with my wife instead.”