Social Program "Abhyudaya" at SPJIMR

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This work captures the life of a child in a Mumbai slum and my experiences with the child for the one year when I was her mentor.

This work captures the life of a child in a Mumbai slum and my experiences with the child for the one year when I was her mentor.

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  • 1. Sociology of Poverty PGP-10-123: Jaikishan GiananiPGP-10-146: Prarthana Bagrodia
  • 2. Part A: Study of Sitara
  • 3. Introduction:Abraham Maslow‟s „Hierarchy of NeedsPyramid‟ has set up five levels of basicneeds. A man keeps moving upwards in thepyramid as one need is satisfied.As a part of the Abhyudaya program,initiated by SPJIMR, we had theopportunity of interacting with a familystaying in Bairam Bagh, a modest localityin Mumbai. Plotting this family as perMaslow‟s pyramid, we observed that theycould meet their psychological needs offriendship and family. They now aremaking efforts to make their childrenachieve the need of „Esteem‟, usingAbhyudaya as a platform.Mumbai is usually associated with glamour, show biz and stardom. This locality is in contrast withthe aforesaid image of Mumbai. The one thing it has in common are the STARS, whom we callSITARAS.Manisha is our Sitara, a bright sincere girl studying in class seven. She has a family which comprisesof five other members, which includes her father, mother, one elder sister and two younger sisters.She also has some extended family members like an uncle staying in some other part of the city.During our interaction with the family every Sunday over the last one year, we could gathersubstantial insight into their living conditions, behavioural pattern and social structure.Occupation, Income and consumption profile:- “Bhagwan ke daya se hamare paas sab kuch hai”The sitara‟s father drives an auto rickshaw in Mumbai. The vehicle was purchased with the financialassistance of his sister, 6 years ago. The family had to take a loan in the past for which it mortgagedthe rickshaw. Hence, for about 3 years, her father worked as an attendant to a rich family in Mumbai.After re paying the loan in full, six months back, he has now reverted to his old profession. Thesitara‟s mother said that he works about 5 days a week.Her Mom was employed till about four months back, in a factory. She would work from home and thejob involved, separation of mixer components. In this work, the girls would often assist the mother.Currently the family earns approximately Rs 11500 per month. This covers the educational expensesof the children, their fooding, clothing, electricity, maintenance of the building, transportation, mobileexpenses, etc.
  • 4. It is important to note:-  The family was re habilitated to their present location 7 years back. Their current room is under their ownership and hence the family does not bear monthly rental expense.  The father has to spend a reasonable amount (30% of the operating income), on the fuel and; maintenance and repairs of the auto rickshaw.  The frequency of breakdown is almost one every three days. Hence the overall maintenance expense is high. The family needs to provide for this.  The family owns several gadgets: refrigerator, washing machine, DVD player, tape recorder with speakers and two mobile phones.  The family‟s assets include the property where they currently reside, the furniture and fixture and the auto rickshaw.  They shop for clothes, during their festive season, namely Ramzan and Muharram twice a year.  The family is thrifty and believes in spending intelligently. This was evident when the mother said that they only but grocery from the „Naka‟, since most of the products are cheaper by about a rupee. She prefers to purchase the ration in bulk for the whole month. The payment terms are cash and carry.  The family uses, Lifebuoy Soap, Clinic Plus shampoo, Colgate as their toothpaste and the eldest daughter uses Head and Shoulders.  The school uniforms, hair ribbons, text books are provided by their school itself.  The family maintains a savings account with Hindustan Bank, which is also the bank which lends them money against mortgage of assets.
  • 5. Grocery and food supplies (close to 5000 Mobile per month) Stationary recharge and books (Rs 30 per for School day) Expenses Building Electricit Maint. (Rs y (as per 200 per usage) month) Entertainment House : Visit Park painting every Sunday (once a year) Rupee makes the Sitara richThe family lives on a constrained budget. This has had an influence on the Sitara. She likes tospend with her friends, but refrains from being extravagant. She is cautious with her spendingand has a piggy bank at home in which she puts few coins from time to time. It is not theamount, but the gesture and attitude which the sitara displays which struck us.During our visits to the Elephanta caves, while her friends purchased chips and cold drink,she refrained her self and just purchased 5 rupees worth ice cream. It is known to us that shelikes cold drinks, yet she resisted herself as it was being sold there for a premium of 5 rupees.The family purchases clothes twice a year. The sum is to be shared among all the sisters. Shehas also developed the habit of sharing. All of them happily share among each other.Thus, it is the limited resources available to the family that have made our Manisha richer asa person.
  • 6. Inter-relations between the family:- “Hum sab ek saath rehte hain, ghoomte hain, sote hain!”It is said that, “the family that eats together, prays together, stays together‟. Manisha is blessed with afamily that eats, prays, goes out and fights all problems together. The sisters also go to schooltogether. The family is very closely knit, despite the fact that their father is their step father. This isher mother‟s second marriage, and she is the child from her mother‟s first husband.The mother and father take good care of their daughters. The father even drops them and picks themup from school. The mother spends quality time with them. This has given Manisha, satisfaction withregards to „social needs‟ as per Maslow‟s „Hierarchy of needs‟. Nurture the Nature The deep rooted bond of the family has left a deep mark on Manisha‟s nature. We have continuously observed that she greatly respects her parents, especially her father. She has also been a constant source of guidance for her younger sisters. He is a responsible child who does all her work herself because she understands the responsibilities on her mother‟s shoulders. She had once told us that she wanted to earn money to make her family happy. She understands that her mother went through a troubled phase and could not provide for herself because she was illiterate. She wants to get educated so that she can provide for the family in times of need.Dominance/Influence pattern:- “Inke Papa ko jo achcha nahi lagta, hum nahi karte”During our interaction with the family it was evident that the father occupied a central and powerfulstatus. It is to be noted that the father is himself under the dominance of his sister‟s husband. Thisindividual is a local Dada, and helped the family get the room in which they currently stay.He exercises control, but fulfils all his responsibilities. He drops the children to school every day, andalso picks them up frequently. Also, he does not indulge in drinking, so as to lose the family‟s respect.We observed that the father has deep respect for his wife and four daughters and often consults hiswife while taking key decisions. He is also extremely soft spoken with other women of thecommunity. This fact is further proved by his act of never entering the room when the girl mentor(Prarthana) was on her Sunday visit to their home.
  • 7. However, he is conservative about his daughters. Though he encourages them to study and beindependent, he does not like them going out and playing with other boys. He does not encourage hisdaughters to go to a neighbour‟s place which has a young boy. Also, he prefers to see them wearsalwar kameez instead of jeans. Yet, he does not object if a teacher asks the students to wear jeans onany occasion.They family‟s conservative attitude has also had an impact on the sitara‟s elder sister. She hascommendable skill and talent in mehendi and has also received several offers to apply mehendi atweddings. How ever she was not allowed to go out and work. Bounded Freedom We have observed that Manisha, under the influence of the family is mostly dressed in salwaar kameez only. One of the few times she wore a pair of jeans and a t shirt was during the visit to Elephanta caves when it was mandatory. We also realised that Manisha though frank and confidant, is slightly subdued in front of her dad. How ever she is a dominating person with her friends and sisters. A key point of concern is with regard to Manisha‟s potential career options. We feel she might not be permitted to pursue her dream career of a teacher due to family‟s restrictions. Her sister has had to face it, so we fear that she might be subject to the same.Attitude towards the Child:- “Hamare liye hamare bachche hi sab kuch hain”The family comprises of four daughters, their mother and a step father. But the treatment that thefather meted out to the daughters is commendable. We live in a male dominated society, wherecouples want a boy child. But in front of us we have an example of a Muslim family who have fourgirls. The step father loves them and treats them all equally.The family is extremely encouraging and wants them to get educated. The mother motivates themmore than their father. She has seen dark times and wants her daughters to be prepared for anyadverse times ahead. If they are educated, they will be able to fight all odds. The entire family thinksvery highly of education.The family is very pious and believes in Allah and Naseeb. They are God fearing and the girl alsobelieves in the power of Allah. They have photos of Dua in their hose. But at the same time that arenot rigid in their beliefs. Though they try their best to, they are also not very particular about readingthe Namaaz five times a day.
  • 8. The moral values and ethical beliefs of the family are very strong. The same has been imbibed in thechildren as well. The Sitara is extremely well behaved and respects her elders. She is always willingto extend any help to her friends. The transparency in the family has also resulted in Manisha beingan honest child.The mother is very particular about her children not going and asking any neighbour for food or anyother article. She has taught them to be self sufficient ad hold their head high and maintain selfesteem.The parents have centred their life round their children. The pride in the mothers‟ eye was evidentwhen she heard Manisha speak confidently in English in front of the FMB participant. Anotherincident which has stayed in our memory is of a day when the mother expressed her pride when herdaughters got good grades and at the same time the concern for her youngest daughter‟s health.Along with the parents, the sisters also seem to have a soft corner for Manisha and regard her as theirrole model as she is the one to be selected for the Abhyudaya program from her family. My Guiding Light Manisha is also a believer in God and religiously follows the rituals of fasting during Roza’s. She prays to God, believes in the unanimity of religions and protects her self esteem. Her life is regulated by the morals and principles she believes in.
  • 9. Part B: Study of Community
  • 10. This is the community of which Manisha and her family are a part. This settlement does aptlyrepresent a scene of united India. People from all the four major religions reside here. It is not basedon any specific caste, creed or religion. From our observation over the past one year, we haveinferred that the society is home to people belonging to a similar stratum of society, whichcomprises of people with monthly disposable income in the range of 8000 to 15000 rupees permonth.The society was developed by a group of builders, 6 to 7 years back. The buildings are all multistoried and hence fall in the pucca category. The building is made up of bricks and cement. Thecomplex is located in a Muslim dominated area and is easily approachable by cars, autos and bikes.The area is very close to the Andheri station, and has a post office, doctors’ clinic and bus standnearby. PCO‟s are located at regular intervals, though most families own at least one mobile phone.A society was selected to address all the issues related to establishment and to take over themaintenance of the building once the building became functional. It is headed by a Chairman andcomprises of members, all of them being selected by the builder himself.The complex is extremely self sufficient with a grocery store, tailor, meat shop and beauty parlour.They are all located inside the boundaries of the complex.The average size of the room is 300 square feet. The rooms are of different dimensions and pricedaccordingly. The rent varies with area and location of the room. A room in the corner will fetch higherrent.A matter of concern arises as the sewage facility does not seem to be up to the mark. We haveobserved drainage water flowing all over the place. It is a ground for breeding mosquitoes and severalwater borne diseases.
  • 11. General facts:- The rooms are available at a monthly rent of approximately rupees 4000-7000 per month, subject to negotiation and size of the room. Rooms can also be obtained on ownership at approximately rupees 15lakhs. Maintenance charges of rupees 200 per month are collected from each family. Electricity charges and cable operator’s fees are paid by each family individually as per their usage. Water facility is available twice a day for hour each, 8 am and 1pm. There is no external illumination in the lanes of the compound. A separate lavatory is attached with each room. The respective family is responsible for the hygiene and cleanliness of its allotted area.A point to be noted is that in spite of paying maintenance charges, most members of the communitycomplain of garbage being dumped all over the premises. Though a sweeper has been appointed foreach building, the premises remain dirty. The occupants of the leased flats are blamed for thedirtiness.Most of the people in the community are auto drivers, private drivers or own shops for sellinggrocery or repair shops. Most families own a ration card and voters ID card. The sitara‟s family alsopossess all such legal documents.Culture:-The community is male dominated. Most families do not allow their girls are asked to stay indoorsand are generally not allowed to go out to work. They may be allowed to work from home. This canbe validated by the fact that over the year, we have only observed boys playing in the compound.Girls are not seen outdoors. The girls are at times observed playing, just outside their homes in thecommon corridor under the vigilance of the mother.The compound houses non vegetarians as a majority. This is proved by the existence and activebusiness of the butcher inside the compound. There is a culture of consuming three meals a daycomprising of rice, dal, vegetable and meat. „Gohst‟ or goat meat is a favourite.The shop keeper we interviewed told us that love marriages are still a taboo in the community. Theparents fear that if the girls are given too much freedom, they might tread the “wrong path”. Themother of our mentee was of the view,
  • 12. “Jab hum tumhari shaadi karwaenge, to itna ganda kaam kyu karna”It was told to us, that a girl is usually married off at around 18 to 20 years of age. Trend in thecommunity suggests that an average wedding costs 1 to 1.5 lakh rupees where as a lavish weddingcosts around 3 lakhs. Most families take a loan to fund the wedding. The loan is either taken from arelative, neighbour or bank. The payback period is approximately three years.Manisha‟s family plans to take a loan from Hindustan Bank, for their eldest daughter‟s marriage.They plan to mortgage their auto. The daughter is currently 18 years of age.The boy in the community is however permitted to have more than one wife. Thus, Genderdiscrimination does exist in the community.The community as a whole is a very safe place to stay in. the shop keeper said that if any boymisbehaves with a girl, immediate action would be taken. Manisha‟s mother told us that she was alsocomfortable with the idea of leaving her daughters alone in her home under the supervision of herneighbours. On the whole, the family was extremely satisfied with the community and plan tocontinue staying there. It makes me who I am Manisha generally plays inside her home with her sisters. But her female friends from the neighbourhood often come over to give her company. She usually wears salwaar kameez and avoids jeans as it is not readily acceptable in the community. Manisha and her family also consume meat. They had also offered us meat and were surprised to know that we are vegetarians. As is the trend in the community, even Manisha might be married off once she attains 18 years of age. This might hamper her future plans of becoming a teacher. Since the society is male dominated, she is also very submissive to her father. This is a common thread that we observed in the family.Unity and Diversity-The way we liveThe interviewee emphasised on the point that the community was extremely united, irrespective oftheir caste, creed or religion. If someone dies or there is a marriage in any family, a large number offellow residents come together.A Christian neighbour invited the sitara‟s family to church on the occasion of Christmas. The lattervisited the Christian family‟s home to share their happiness.
  • 13. Similarly, Manisha‟s family also has a culture of distributing kheer to 70-80 houses in theneighbourhood on occasion of Eid.A classic example of unity was given by a local shop keeper. On the occasion of the India Pakistanmatch during the World Cup, several families came together to watch the match. In spite of differentreligions, all unanimously supported India. In their locality, the Hindus and the Muslims celebratedevery six that India hit and every wicket that India took. On the contrary, in a near by colony, theHindus and Muslims were divided. When India lost a wicket, the Muslims celebrated and they alsocheered for Pakistan. Growing ‘together’ Manisha as a person has never discriminated between religions. In fact she has very close Hindu friends named Bhagyashree and Kiran. Even Manisha’s mother is not a Muslim by birth. She is only married to one. This happens to be her second marriage. Both of us (Prarthana and Jaikishan) are Hindus. We were welcomed with open arms and treated like family members. Since we are vegetarians, the mother took great care to ensure that non vegetarian was not served when we were there.
  • 14. Educational Scenario:-The elders in the society are mostly uneducated. But the younger generation is visiting schools. Someof the youth have also taken up vocational courses to increase their employability.During our visits to the mentee‟s place, many children from the neighbouring houses liked to join usand some of the parent even offered us money in case we agreed to tutor the child.Manisha’s take on the society:-Manisha is fond of the place she resides in. She has a friend circle there and freely interacts with theneighbour‟s girl children.She feels safe and secure in the environment. The beauty of the program design is that, we mentor thechild in their zone of comfort. It is the mentors who adapt to the surrounding environment. It is veryconducive to the develop of the child.Community’s Aspiration: the Way AheadThe whole experience of Abhyudaya, has taught us „Hope‟. Despite the constraints, challenges andthreats these people face, they never lose hope. We know that Manisha might not be able to become ateacher in the future. But the “Hope” or slightest possibility that exists drives her. Similar, is the casewith the other people living there. They do not have anything with them excepting hope and desire tosucceed.The community wants the children to get educated so that they can stand up on their own feet andhelp their family get out of the cycle of poverty. This is what exactly Abhyudaya is trying to do:Helping 134 families to come out of the shackles of poverty by making education as the enabler.People Interviewed:Family: Mother, father and eldest sisterSociety: Local shop keepers and Saleem Bhai “The Tailor”Neighbours: “Nani”, an old lady who is their neighbour and popularly called by this nameMethodology Followed:Observations and interactions made over the year during the visits.Questions asked to the parentsQuestions asked to the neighbours and shopkeepers.Secondary research.