Today was our last day here in Mumbai and we spent the day saying our farewells to friends and staff at the hotel.Dayabhai and Freda came to the hotel in the afternoon to present us with some outfits that they had made and special bags. They were up late last night finishing them off. Once again they touched our hearts with their passion for the project and their desire for us to take their story from the slums and take it to the UK. They want to give so many young girls a chance to learn a skill and earn a wage to give them independence and dignity. They want to expand their project in to rural areas. Our pledge to them is that we will help them to do this. Thank you India for showing us so candidly your beauty and passion. We will return.....
Today we have begun to wind down after fitting in about 6 months worth in to 3 weeks.We had a walk in the morning to a nearby park to watch old men passing the time of day with each other and children playing. Some local.children brought "Vinny" their kitten to see us. After giving Vinny a cuddle the little boy then took Vinny on the slide...not sure how Vinny felt about that !
Today we went down to the southern tip of Mumbai to the leafy suburbs of Colaba. It really is a stark contrast to the centre of Mumbai with its leafy palm tree lined streets and large white colonial buildings. There is a huge stretch of beach where people flock from all around to watch the huge Indian sun setting over the sea. We met Dayabhai and Freda from the Sakhi Navnirmaan project at a college for Social work where they had an exhibition, we presented them with their leaflets.
Today we took a taxi to a region to the North of Mumbai, Thane. We were met by Shailesh Salvi who coordinates the Vishwas Charitable Trust. It’s been running for 20 years and works with young people with learning disabilities. Shailesh is an artist and believes that learning and skills can be developed through art, dance and music. We went to see the young people doing their morning yoga session and then watched them make various craft items. They sell craft items to generate funds for the project. The young people seemed so happy, full of life and with a sparkle in their eyes. They then presented us with gifts that they had made. Shailesh then took us to visit Jagruti Palak Sanstha , another school for children with learning disabilities run by parents.
Another quiet day for us to rest and reflect on our work so far. After breakfast we took a walk around our local streets and went to a local park. We sat for sometime watching the young boys playing cricket. Cricket is a big thing here in India ! The park is a dusty, hot, sandy, space but offers a recreational area where children and adults can come together as a community. I sat under a beautiful blossom tree watching butterflies while listening to the sound of bat on ball (editor: I think she means "leather on willow"). A gentle walk back to the hotel to continue with a sewing project that Gurpreet and I have started. We are making a gift for the project we visited in the Malad Slums as the girls really touched us with their aspirations and drive despite such overwhelming adversity.Tomorrow we travel up North to the green, mountainous area of Thane to visit a school for physically disabled children.
We've been working hard over the past couple of weeks in exteme heat and decided that today are bodies were asking for a day of rest. So, that’s exactly what we have done.........rest. I took a short walk this morning and stopped to admire some of the beautiful buildings that surround us here in central Mumbai. It really is a city of the extreme contrasts; modern and old, rich and poor. Only one week to go and still so much to do and see. We’ll have recharged our batteries ready for the week.
Today we visited the Trishul women’s project in Aram Nagar, Mumbai. Based in an area of poverty the project empowers women through creative skills training and the products they make are sold to generate an income for the ladies. The project allows the women to bring their babies and young children to work so that they don’t have to worry about childcare. The ladies are very proud of what they do and work very hard producing some wonderful bags, jewellery and other textile items.Trishul is a well supported project and the ladies here earn a good wage for the work they do. We talked about the benefits of creativity for mental health and left them with various items to enable them to make some prayer flags. Trishul Project Website
We took a lunchtime train to Malad with a quick shopping stop on the way. Today’s train was less than 10p for the two of us. The station had some beautiful artwork :) our first train was so busy even in the ladies carriage and I was standing very close to the open door. Our second train was far more civilised as we could sit down.We took a tuk tuk into the slums of Malad and were met by Dayabhai who took us to meet the girls working on the project. Through winding streets of the slum dwellings to a tiny workshop down a backstreet.
Today we needed to buy more supplies as we’ve been leaving our equipment with some of the projects as they are in need of sewing equipment. We had no workshops planned for today so used the day to source more supplies and relax. We walked to a local market and bought more scissors and cottons, and materials. We then took a train to Colaba which is the southern tip of Mumbai and were able to sit in the 'ladies only' carriage.
Today was our first day working at the Dharavi slums. We had a veggie snack at our favourite restaurant of idli and accompaniments. Yum. Then we began to walk towards the Dharavi area with lots of little street sellers to tempt us. lots of tuk tuks stopped to offer us a ride as apparently no one walks in this heat! We took a tuk tuk to the Dharavi area and were met by Anoul who offered to show us around the recycling area of the slums. We felt really privileged to be able to have the opportunity to see inside the slums. They are the largest in the world and home to thousands of men, women and children.