I’m Alan Irwin and I’m the Enterprise Platforms and Technical Presales Lead with Realex Payments. I’m currently in India with 4 of my Realex Payments colleagues so I’d like to give you some insight into our adventure, the charity we are supporting and the Realex Payments team that are getting involved!

About Calcutta Connect


I’m honoured to be among the founders of an amazing charity, called Calcutta Connect, which helps to bring the gift of education to over 800 students in some of the most disadvantaged areas of Calcutta (now called Kolkata) and beyond.

About Realex Giving

Realex Giving

Realex Giving has chosen Calcutta Connect as its Charity of the Year 2016. Realex Giving is Realex Payment’s commitment as an organisation to give our time, expertise and financial support to make an impact in the communities we, our partners and customers work in. This year Realex Giving gave 5 of the Realex team the opportunity to visit Kolkata to experience what life is really like for the students that Realex Giving is supporting.

This will help us gain a greater understanding of the role that Realex Giving’s support plays in improving education in Kolkata. We want to walk in the shoes of a child living in Kolkata to help us understand their needs. This means we can work harder at contributing to an education support system which gives young people in Kolkata improved access to the skills they need to help them to build a better life, today and in the future.

Before they left, I caught up with Michelle, Gearoid, Nick and Silver…my Realex Giving colleagues on the trip!

Michelle Tyrrell, Office Manager at Realex Payments

Michelle Realex Payments

A: Hi Michelle, tell us a little bit about you and what you are expecting…

M: I’m so excited about this opportunity. I think it will be a life changing experience, becoming entrenched in the Indian culture and seeing first-hand the great work that Realex Giving is doing with Calcutta Connect.

It’s my first time in India, so it will all be new to me. Some of my colleagues (I’m looking at you, Alan!) have told me some interesting stories about what to expect in India.  One involves a little four-legged creature so I’ll keep you posted on the trip about that gem! Genuinely, this is such an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful to be a part of it. Thanks to all involved for making this happen!

Nick Fava, Enterprise Sales Manager at Realex Payments

Nick Fava Realex Payments

A: Nick, welcome to the Realex Giving Trip to India! Tell us your background…

N: As you know Alan, I’m coming back to Kolkata this year for a second time – last year my friend Emma and I accompanied you on your annual trip. It was a completely new experience for both of us, we loved it so much. So there was no stopping us going back this year.

I am very excited to now be part of the Realex Giving group, not only because I am lucky enough to be returning, but also to share the experience with others going for the first time. I have had a couple of donations from friends and family to support the charity (thanks guys!).

One thing I had to pack was my Realex Payment’s bright orange t-shirt which has been dusted off – I think it is going to help me to blend in nicely so it is packed and ready to get dirty! If there’s one thing I’m a little bit nervous about, it is the daily commute by Tuk Tuk, which is the closest thing to a near death experience I’ve ever encountered!

Juan Silvestre Nuñez Amezcua, Software Developer at Realex Payments

Silva Realex Payments

A: Silver, you are quite a globetrotter, you have just returned from Mexico and now you are off volunteering in India?

S: I know, it’s been an interesting few weeks! Thankfully Michelle helped me with all the visa, vaccine and organisation elements of my trip – thank you Michelle! I’m a software developer with Realex, I’ve been here for about a year.

I’m really excited to start this trip. I think it is great that companies like Realex Payments try to help disadvantaged people. For me, I’m sure it will be difficult to see their living conditions, I hope this helps me to be more humble and get involved in other programs.

It’s my first time in India so I’m really excited about meeting the students and just enjoying the moment with the people.

Gearoid Quigley, Enterprise Sales Manager at Realex Payments

image 2 gearoid

A: Gearoid, this is your second experience within international education, tell us more…

G: That’s right! When I was 20 years old, I spent a semester of University teaching English as a second language to students in Argentina so I have also looked at some old classes I used to teach and will hopefully be able to draw on this experience in the class room.

I can safely say it was the most demanding and rewarding time of my life to date and really showed that I have the ability to deal with and prosper in extreme environments. Hopefully this will stand to me during my time in India. 

I’m really excited to start the trip, I am looking forward to really understanding what day-to-day life is actually like for the people of Kolkata. It will be an amazing experience to understand the importance of the charity to Kolkata and really understand the effects of poverty in the city.

Stay tuned for the adventures of the team in Kolkata…

“We spent the first day as tourists, exploring the past glories of Kolkata, which was once one of the jewels in the crown of the East India Trading Company.  Today, Kolkata is still very charming, but is now a shadow of its former glory, with smoggy, dusty air and dilapidated buildings.”

“The people of Kolkata are the real jewel in India’s crown; so open, friendly and engaging. We played some cricket with some local kids outside a historic church today… find out who won in the next Realex blog post!”

Learn more about life at Realex Payments or find out more about Calcutta Connect and the great work they do.