Saturday, July 19, 2014

Homeless Visit

Homeless encampment at Mumbai Central
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. 

Image taken from Pehchan
For the 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.  

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