Goa Going gone....

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INDIA-BOUND explorer Monica Isle has thanked supporters after thousands of pounds were generously donated for her upcoming trip.

The 68-year-old will be jetting out to Goa next week where she will spend the next three months working for a charity, helping some of the poorest street children in the country.

But she says the support she has encountered since the Post first highlighted her plight last year has been nothing short of staggering.

More than £2,000 has been pledged, money which will go straight to the centre in Goa. Meanwhile, others have given her cash to help cover her travel expenses, and some, including Brown’s Greengrocers in Pocklington, have given her money to help school some of the underprivileged children.

Pocklington and District Lions donated £300, while one cafe owner in York even handed her £50 after they got chatting by chance as when Monica dropped in for a quick hot chocolate.

Monica, who will jet out on Tuesday, said: “I just wanted to say a big, big thank you to everybody, I can’t believe the affect it’s had on people.

“It’s not just the money, it’s making people aware and the emotions that I have gone through and they have gone through, it’s been unbelievable.

“Paul from Brown’s gave me £100 to school five children, but has said he’ll school those five for the rest of their lives. The other day I was out with Pocklington Ramblers, and one man gave me £100 to spend on the children. It’s incredible, this is the type of response I’ve had from people.

“It’s no wonder I’m on a high, I’ve met so many nice people and I feel really privileged.”

Monica took the life-changing decision to channel her energy into charity work in April last year. The former foster mum is already known around Pocklington for her tireless efforts in launching the successful Pocklington Ramblers group some years ago. However, she sought a new challenge and came across Children Walking Tall, a charity dedicated to helping the slum and street children in some of the poorest parts of India.

She has signed up to spend six hours a day working at The Mango House in Goa, a drop-in centre for the children where they can be fed, showered, clothed and schooled.

Her flights, accommodation and living expenses will come out of her own pocket, with the help of some generous friends, but with limited luggage space restricting the amount of gifts she can take for the youngsters, she successfully sought to raise money for the centre instead.

But it’s not all been plain sailing for the adventurous grandmother after a few problems getting her visa, which would allow her to work abroad.

Delays and communication problems meant she had to wait longer than usual, which proved a nail-biting time.

“I had a lot of trouble, I finally got the Visa the Thursday before Christmas- and it was the best present I could have had! They [the Indian authorities] had put it on hold because they wanted qualifications for the years of child care I had done.

“A lot of what I did was fostering so there were no qualifications. Then they wanted school qualifications, well I’m 68 and I left school at 15! Eventually, they decided to release it without qualifications. They really did keep moving the goal posts.

“People keep asking me if I’m apprehensive about going, but I’m just so excited.”