Schoolchildren in India Reveal What They Plan to Ask Princess Kate and Prince William When They Visit: 'How Do You Live in Such a Big House?'
The royal couple will meet the children on Sunday
Saniya Puniya Chauhan, 10, lives with her parents, five sisters and one brother in a 8 ft. by 8 ft. room in a slum on the edge of the financial district in Mumbai, India.
She goes to a school run by charity The Door Step, which was set up for kids who would otherwise be working in the fish industry, selling garlands or collecting rubbish for barely $5 a day.
Will and Kate are set to meet some of the children from the Door Step’s school at a cricket match on Sunday as part of their seven-day tour of India and Bhutan, where PEOPLE will be reporting live from the scene. Later in the evening, the charity will be one of three that will benefit from a star-studded gala, where the royal couple will rub elbows with Bollywood stars and hopefully raise $150,000 for the organizations. The other two charities that will be featured are Magic Bus, which helps kids get to school and activities, and Childline, which supports vulnerable youngsters who arrive in the city without guardians to work.
The excited children at The Door Step have been shown pictures on the internet of the royal couple, the palaces and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte. “I’m wondering how they live in such a big house and how they call each other,” Saniya told reporters at the school on Saturday. She asked if they were bringing their children. “I would like to see them,” she said.
Through her teacher, she added, “I am wondering how they communicate in such a big house. I’m wondering what kind of clothes they wear.”
What caught the eye of Kailash Chauhan, 11, was the red-tunic wearing guardsman at the palace gates. “I was amazed to see the big house and the security guards outside.” He is looking forward to showing the royal couple his science project on magnetism.
The school was set up by the remarkable Bina Sheth Lashkari, whose charity works in 70 other slums, and even on construction sites, in two cities. It now reaches 72,000 children each year.
“Their visit will bring a great credibility for us, and a lot of visibility for their work,” she told PEOPLE. “For the children – and for us – it will be a remarkable lifetime experience.
“The children want to learn about the family. The girls were asking about whether they are the same prince and princess as the fairytales. One of the girls wanted to know if she has big hair and one said she was going to make her story about the prince and princess.”
She set up her first school in 1989, for children who would otherwise be working – and she says they often faced resistance from parents and other members of the community.
“We ask some of the kids who have done well to talk to them. Our success stories talk to parents and the community.”
She told how 1,000 youngsters have now gone to their pre-elementary schools and then gone on to stay in the school system. As well as going to school, some of the children still work, cleaning prawns and helping load and unload boats and selling garlands.
Beaming as she took PEOPLE on a tour of the area around the school, Lashkari showed off an alley where one of her success stories had come from. Winding through the cramped living conditions in the 25,000-population Baba Sheb Ambedkar Nagar slum, with its electric cables and small pipes dangling above and to the side, one of the dark lanes has been named Devi Chauhan Road. She is a 22 year old – and is now a teacher following in her mentor’s footsteps.