Thursday, 24 February 2011

First Impressions of the Slum

It's Thursday!  The week has slipped by very quickly and there's been hardly the moment to update the blog. I was up early on Wednesday to try to get you more news, but there was no connectivity, so my plans were scuppered. I am hoping to get some news in now.

We're working in Trilokpuri, a slum on the east of Delhi, and across the Yamuna river.  It's not an area I've been to before and the drive out takes us past India Gate and the impressive roads and fairly organized traffic, and across the wide Yamuna river which I believe is a dead river.  There are canals or tributaries running into the Yamuna and all are so unbelievably heavily polluted. One feels that a week of heavy focused litter collecting would breathe a new life in everywhere.  In fact this is the general comment from those who've not been before.  Why do people just discard litter as they walk?  There is in general no sense of tidying up after you and with such a massive population, the litter problem is really quite something.

So, to the slum.  Our clinic as two stories - 4 rooms downstairs, and three rooms upstairs.  The second floor was previously occupied, but unused and only recently given to Asha. Unlike previous trips, we did not have to paint the interior of the building, as this had been done for us. We were required to paint murals or decorate 4 of the rooms which the children will be using. We have used the posters we made of the London sights for the computer room and have had great fun painting murals in the remaining three rooms.

Only painting murals has freed us to spend time with the children and woman and people in the slum, which is great.

Trilokpuri is a small colony, with one clinic, which 4 slums use, and 500 families. One of the slums is predominantly Muslim and the others have more Hindus. Either way, there is quite a mix of faiths and beliefs.
Asha have been in Trilokpuri for 20 years and their influence is evident everywhere. Sweeta, who is from Asha and manages 4 slums has spent the last three days with us and has worked with Trilokpuri for the past 19 years.  She knows the families and their stories and continues to encourage those who are on the periphery to join the women's group or the children's group. In this slum there is also a recently started youth group. Walking in the slums there are concreted lanes throughout and drinking water taps outside most homes. This is a huge improvement over what I have seen in the past, where water points were dotted about the colony, meaning that families had to collect water and bring it home for use.  In fact I'm struck everywhere by the huge improvements to life in this slum over what I have seen in the past.  Make no mistake, this is still no way for people to live.  Families of 6 share two rooms, of 8' by 10', and there is a communal toilet block, which I'm pleased to say, I have not had the opportunity of seeing, but which some of my teams members were taken to inspect.
Time to sign off here. Do read the St Stephen's blog too,, where the team is writing up the news. There are two great pieces on the work we've been doing in the last three days.
Next time I'll add a piece on the workshop we did with the students.  Last year this slum sent 1 student to university and this year 7 started first year. Wonderful stuff.  More later.

1 comment:

~t said...

Wonderful to hear you're making a difference. Keep up the good work and stay safe. ~t