A day at the slum

Our day at a slum in New Delhi was very interesting but also very uncomfortable! The majority of the people who lived there are garbage collectors. As soon as we walked into this area, we saw that the people were living side by side with the the garbage, tied in 10 feet+ large white bags! There were uncountable flies everywhere – a very disease prone area! Most of the houses that we saw were concrete, not tents as I had expected. This confirmed that this slum was one of the better slums of India, but a slum nevertheless. I managed to take a few pictures on my iphone:

Avoiding the stares and unnecessary comments of these people, we made our way to this NGO called ‘Jan Sandesh‘ led by Shanti Paswan and Malathi. Jan Sandesh means Message to the People. This is a very small organization that started in 2000 but only started picking up a few years ago. However, even now they make very little things as they don’t get a lot of orders. Shanti and Malathi, the two ladies who we met, are working at Jan Sandesh on a volunteer basis, in other words, without any salary. They have employed 30 women from the slum who are willing to work on handicrafts. Shanti told us of various issues when it came to employing the women of these slums. She said that many of these women who are collecting garbage, do not want to do these handicrafts because it is harder and they can make more money collecting garbage in a month than they can by making handicrafts. It’s sad and unfortunate, but most of these people want to do nothing but get lot of money. Some other issues that Shanti told us are that some of these women leave after sometime because they get married and go away, or they have no interest in making these handicrafts, or they are simply lazy. I was surprised because I had ignorantly thought that any slum or poor person would happily want to take up “good” work – one that brought them “up”. But surprisingly, that is not the case. Shanti and Malathi have to work very hard with these women to convince them to work with the organization!

This organization started by re-using newspaper to make bags. Now they also make textile handicrafts and textile jewelery. It is definitely commendable to see these two women give their time and energy in a slum, which is know to get dangerous as the sun sets – just to make a difference! Below are some of the products they make :

Made from recycled fabric. It’s filled with cut up used plastic bags, that would have normally ended up in a landfill.












An IMPORTANT UPDATE about the post above – June 10 2011 (2 months later):
I’ve observed that by searching “Jann Sandesh” or “Shanti Paswan” or “seema puri”, a few people have come to this blog. I wanted to share with you my experiences with Jann Sandesh.

In April, after hearing about Jann Sandesh from Shanti Paswan and Malathi, I was very pleased and decided to work with this organization. We(Ichcha) gave them a few designs to work on. However, things didn’t end as they started. In fact, they ended soon after we handed them our designs. We were flexible, however, they didn’t even care to discuss any options. If Jann Sandesh is really what an NGO is supposed to be all about, they should have followed through what they started.

So for those of you who are thinking of working them, please be aware. Their intentions may not be as social as they seem to portray, after all.

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