Monday, 14 March 2016

How a Recent YEP Graduate's Trip to a Rural Village Changed The Way They Think About Dharavi and Inspired Change

Recently, Kaveri and Hasnain, two graduates from our Youth Empowerment Program joined youth from the French NGO Global Potential for a four day leadership course in our partner village, Chinchoti.

Global Potential is an 18 month leadership and entrepreneurship program for youth from underserved communities. A key aspect of their program is a 45 day service-learning project in a rural village. During the month and a half immersion, program participants learn from local youth and cultures, carry out internships, and support community projects in health, environment, education, and media.

This year, they came to India for the first time to explore potential partnerships and partner villages with our co-founder Krishna. They also took the opportunity to host the leadership course with their students, and invited Kaveri and Hasnain along too!

The group, led by Reality co-founder Krishna, pause for a photo with Reality staff, Lethy and Nick

Upon their return we sat with Kaveri to reflect on her time away from Dharavi.

What was it like working with young people from France?

“We were like friends... even more... like family members! I already miss them. We spent 3 days together, always helping each other! It was really very nice!

I know Indian people but for the first time I also have foreign friends! I'm very happy. We are still in contact, even if they are back in France!”

What did you have in common?

“At the beginning I thought that the language would have been a barrier. How we would communicate? But [it] was amazing to see how we always manage to understand and to make us understood! And sometime they were also helping me to improve my English, correcting me”

What differences did you have?

“The language is the big difference! But I improved my English and I also taught a bit of Marathi to Adina [one of the French students]. Words like ‘goodnight’ and the names of the food and she was always tried to speak Marathi”

How is life in the village compared to the city?

“It was my first time in that village. In the city there are people from all over India, and also from all over the world. In the village just Marathi people…there are not good schools, not much development, no computer classes, just 450 houses and not much possibilities.

And the market is very far! You have to go far far away! They need a lot of help and education! Most of them don't know how to use a computer.

But if you ask me if I prefer the village or the city I will be confused, because I really like the village, but just for some days not for life long! Because there the life is very hard, I'm used to the city, where I was born! I'm happy here!”

How did you feel coming back to Mumbai?

“Lucky, because the life in the city is easier, and I have much more possibilities than the people in the village”

What did you do in the village?

“Mountain trekking, for two hours was very amazing! We learn how the bricks are done [and] we collect the rice, that was hard work - I didn't know that was so hard!

Also the journey was very nice! We took a boat [and] I did also some translation work (from Marathi to English and English to Marathi)”

"We were like friends... even more... like family members"

How will your experience change you?

“Now I want to speak more English, because I usually speak Marathi, but after these days I see that is possible to communicate in English and I want to practice more! Because I need English!”

What did you learn?

“I learn leadership…and the day we did the trekking in the mountains it was my first time and it was very hard, but with the positive thinking, I knew that it was possible, and I reached the top of the mountain! I keep on repeat to myself 'you can do it' and I did!

I learnt how to overcome the difficulties, focus and achieve my goal! Also during the farm workshop, it had always been a team work, we were collaborating all together. So I also understood the importance of the teamwork!

Thanks also to the help all the others, we were always tighter, helping one other!"

What was the best part of the trip?

"I like the village people! They were so nice and polite. I felt like I was in a family. They gave us everything we need and we became very close! When we left she cried!"

What was the hardest part?

"It was not hard! Maybe the part of the trekking... but then I reached the top so it was no longer hard. We were always happy!"

How will you use the information you learned?

"My idea is to use what I learnt for changing Dharavi, where I live. The problem in Dharavi is the garbage, which is everywhere! I would like Dharavi to be cleaned…and we also need more clean toilets! And if all Dharavi people collaborate it would be possible!

I would like to change these two things in Dharavi!"

Monday, 11 January 2016

Reality Gives - Looking Forward to 2016

Having ended 2015 with the release of our Annual Report, looking back on a year where we extended our reach to have positively impacted the lives of over 6,000 people in the communities we serve in Dharavi, January now feels a fitting time to look ahead.

We caught up with a whole host of staff and beneficiaries and asked them all one thing - 'what are your hopes and dreams for 2016?'. Here's what they had to say...

IT Teacher and Community Centre Assistant Manager, Ravi, has already realised his own dream,
he wants to help others reach there

At our Ashayen Community Centre Jyoti, the Community Centre Manager, wishes "to see more community centres in different parts of Dharavi full of youth and children, getting trained by us and following their dreams".

Colleague Ravi has similar hopes, "I want to see more and more young people coming to us. I want us to be known in every corner of Dharavi because we offer course and opportunities which a professional but free. I want to share this good education and opportunity. For myself I have no wish. I wanted to be a teacher and now I am a teacher and the Community Centre Assistant Manager. I have no wish but also, I am excited to see what comes next".

Current Youth Empowerment Students, Abid and Javed are hoping 2016 will bring with it exciting new careers. "I wish to find a job in design." Abid says, "I want to make a house for my family because right now we have very little room. My mother wishes for more and I want to make it happen". Javed has similar ambitions, "I want to be a Civil Draftsman because I love buildings – they are home and communities. I want to help build them".

IT Teacher Karthika, who herself is a graduate of the Youth Empowerment Program wants "to study more and work more so I can help more. I want to help people from here that are not as lucky as me".

Royal City School classrooms are abuzz with young hopes, dreams and possibilities

Over at Royal City School, Lakshmi our principate shared her wish to "to create more leaders from the teaching team, to empower and engage the parent community, and through aid and enhance the students progress". Kindergarten teacher, Sonali told us "it is my dream to support the poorly performing children. I want to see the students develop - especially the ones that find it hardest." Reflecting on how she will do this she continues "I will do this by personally keeping learning. Learning is never a waste. It will help myself and also others too".

Tanzil, a student at the school succinctly describes her desires for the year - "I want to dance because when I do this I am happy. And I want to learn so when I grow old I can do good work".

Varying in backgrounds, age, culture, religion and gender we were touched by the common thread running through all of these hopes and dreams. To improve oneself and in doing so, to help others. A great reminder of the common humanity which pervades the differences we all too often give too much focus and importance to.