Today, I went to visit a homeless camp as part of my Friday
St. Xavier’s College class. The first
part of my visit consisted of a visit to Pehchan in Mumbai Central. Pehchan is an organization dedicated to the
empowerment of homeless individuals. In
order to do this, Pehchan teaches them their rights, provides and creates
employment opportunities, creates awareness about homelessness, and fights to
give them their identities and rights.
In Pehchan’s office, I learned that many of the homeless are workers who
either do not have proof of citizenship or cannot afford to live in
Mumbai. These individuals have been
repetitively harassed by the police, evicted from their place of stay and have
had their belongings confiscated, robbing them of their dignity. Some are even sent to beggar camps for
periods of time in order to “clean” the streets of Mumbai. Unlike America, there are no government
programs to help the homeless.
second part of my visit, we went to visit a homeless encampment in Mumbai Central. The homeless encampment was surrounded by two
luxurious golf courses, showing the juxtaposition between the two. As we entered, even though we were intruding
on their space, the community welcomed with open arms. As the women started telling us about their
story and struggles, I thought about one word—resilience. Even though they’ve been neglected and pushed
away, they still had hope. This is shown
as the women walked up to us to tell us about her community’s situation. Not only that, but they embraced Brijesh, the
director of Pehchan, like he was family.
They talked about how grateful they were to him and everything that he
had done for them.