Today was quite a day, and I am still in the process of thinking about it. I will try to paint a clear picture to all of you.
We got up, and went to St. Xavier’s College to meet up with the rest of the ITSA team. We met up with Bina Mam, who helps slum dwellers fight for their land and rights. The government is constantly trying to destroy the slums, and relocate the dwellers, but she tries to get legal aid to those living in the slums, so that they can take the government to court.
The first stop on the trip was the “Hollywood” slum, as they are called because the women that live there are especially beautiful, and their amazing jewelry (nose rings, toe rings, anklets, bracelets; you name it, they were wearing it). They told us the history of how they came to be on that spot of land, and their struggles with the government. Many of their houses have been torn down, but they just keep rebuilding. They don’t actually know who owns the land that they are living on, and the government still hasn’t told them. But they are the seventh generation of people in that slum! They also said that they were known for being very honest people, which has helped them in the eyes of the law.
They have upcoming trials, which they have been preparing for. We wish them the best!
They were all so amazingly warm and kind. They were very open about the struggles they have faced, but they still were optimistic about the future. Compared to some of the communities that we saw later today, and which I will talk about in a different post, these people were very united. They acknowledged that there are several different denominations within one slum, but they all agree to come together and join forces against the government who is trying to destroy all of their homes. This was a sharp juxtaposition with other internally displaced people that we also visited later in the day.
Their trade is to make Ganesh idols, and other Hindu gods. The city needs them to do this, but they just want to get rid of their “ugly” homes.
Slums do look ugly from the outside, but once you are inside, you can see that it is a lively thriving community. People were happy to show us their homes, and allowed me to take pictures of them. I will leave you with some of the best from the day!
Publicity Director, ITSA 2013