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Report on the situation of slum children in delhi

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This is a report on the social, economic and educational situation of slum children in Delhi that is based on interviews and discussions with children and parents in the selected slums of Delhi. The …

This is a report on the social, economic and educational situation of slum children in Delhi that is based on interviews and discussions with children and parents in the selected slums of Delhi. The report gives a clear picture of the aspirations and dreams of the children in Delhi and without being judgemental makes a strong call for support to the children who are deprived of rights to shelter, housing, education, protection and development.

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  • 1. INTERNSHIP REPORT The situation of children belonging to families involved in waste labor in Delhi David Emmanuel Hatier Bachelor’s degree in Psychology Université Laval, Québec (QC), Canada Under the supervision of Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Alam Ph.D. in Psychology Delhi University, New Delhi, IndiaExecutive Director of the Indian Muslim Economic Development Agency (IMEDA) AUGUST 2011
  • 2. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiCONTEXT OF THE REPORT This study was conducted by David Emmanuel Hatier 1,Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Laval University inQuebec City, Canada. He lived a period of two months in NewDelhi between June 25th and August 30th, 2010 for an internshipwith the organizations SEWA-Delhi and the Indian MuslimEconomic Development Agency (IMEDA). His research wassupervised by Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Alam1, Ph.D inpsychology from the University of Delhi and Executive Directorof IMEDA. Technical assistance has also been provided by Dr.Vinod Sharma, a doctor from SEWA organization. SEWA2 is an organization that works in the slum of New Seelampur, in East Delhi. Itorganizes informal education for illiterate and school dropout. Moreover, this organizationprovides general and reproductive health service withsanitation awareness. SEWA is delivering counselingand referral services on STD, HIV / AIDS, TB, Hepa-B and other contaminated / non-contaminateddiseases. Besides, this organization is working onwomen empowerment, child rights and advocacy thecommunity against the social, traditional, communaland religious victims. IMEDA works for the development of social inclusion in the organizations in order tocontribute towards the achievement of the 11th Plan of the Government of India objectives thatfocuses on inclusive development.1 Upper picture : David Emmanuel Hatier (left side) with Dr. Alam (center), and Dr. Alam’s family2 Bottom picture : Staff members of SEWA 1
  • 3. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiINTRODUCTION1 person is an individual.1000 people are a population.1 million people are a statistic. Too often, we analyze poverty in statisticalterms, in the form of indicators and figures. Thisreport has been realized first and foremost in order tobring the individual experience in first place1, whileleaving aside the population’s reality reduced bypercentages and generalities. In Delhi, as in all major cities in India, slumsare a reality where millions of people live inextremely dense areas. According to Majumdar (1983), the average floor area occupied by peoplein the slums is 2.5 square meters. The high birth rate in deprived areas and the large urbanmigration make the floor area per person even smaller in 2011. With a very high birth rate, the majority of the Indian population is under the age of 18.Not surprisingly, adults in the slums believe that the future lies on youth. The education andemployment represent the two biggest priorities for every family. Both priorities go together,meaning that education creates jobs and jobs enable families to afford school supplies andprovide all their needs without relying on the meager salary that their children could get today. But when we think of the future for youth, we inevitably see some downsides. First, anegligible percentage of children have the chance to go to school, while the dropout occurs veryquickly for many other kids. In addition, many slums are built on lands belonging to the government. The concept ofownership does not exist among the inhabitants, who could be relocated anytime due to agovernmental decree. This has happened in 2004 to 3,00,000 people living in Yamuna Pushta, on1 Picture : Young boys and girls from New Seelampur, Delhi 2
  • 4. Children’s situation in slums of Delhithe shore of the river Yamuna passing through Delhi (Dupont, 2008). Due to the CommonwealthGames, 22 slums were destroyed over an area of three kilometers. A meager 20% of thepopulation was relocated in Bawana, the neighboring state of Haryana. Bawana is a deserted fieldon the periphery of the city without public services. Other homeless people have been left in thestreets, on their own. So, how could children from these slums have the chance, one day, to owna property, in an urbanized neighborhood with worthy sanitary conditions? Finally, the question of full employment arises. If today it is already difficult for slumdwellers to find a satisfactory livelihood to nourish their families, how will their children do amida growing population with a quasi-exponential high birth rate and urban migration? Although theIndian economy is currently growing, the poor people in Delhi will still be as poor as they areright now1.1 Picture : The families engaged in waste recycling are living and working in the same place. 3
  • 5. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiTHEORICAL MODEL A study of the daily reality of some children and teenagers living in slums is a veryimportant tool to understand differently the issues and challenges that youth and families in theseneighborhoods are facing every day. By better understanding their perceptions, beliefs, dreamsand emotions, the individual is placed in the center of an environment in which the differentcomponents are all interrelated. As shown in Bonfonbrenner ecological model of humandevelopment1, the experiences of a child in a given context are built thanks to an interactionamong four levels of systems: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem and macrosystem. The microsystem is the child´simmediate environment, which iscomposed by the family, school, friendsand neighborhood. It is defined by theroles, the activities and theinterrelationships among the actors whoare involved. The mesosystem is thenetwork of connections among theimmediate environments that representthese microsystems. The relationshipdeveloped between the childs familyand school is an example of amesosystem. The exosystem is theexternal environment that influences the development indirectly. For example, the context ofworking parents has some pressure on the family, which may influence the relationship betweenthem and the school. Finally, the macrosystem is a larger cultural context that influences all othersystems, particularly through the ideological characteristics of the society which is enrolled tostudy.1 Illustration : Bonfonbrenner model representationSource : http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/8/223/figure/F1?highres=y 4
  • 6. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiPORTRAITS OF THE SLUMS AND THE CHILDRENKanjar community of Sangam Park, living beside the Dargah of Hazrat Syed Shah Arriving at Dargah of Hazrah Syed Shah inSangam Park was striking because the slum is situatedon the edge of a very noisy railway track. Trains passat any time, day and night. On this small territorybelonging to the government stands 22 Jhuggis1 (tent-like shelters). In total, there are 120 children living inthis crowded area, not to mention many adults. Thehouses are jhuggis made with pieces of mendedplastic, among other things supported by bamboosticks and other simple materials. These jhuggis aretheir home, where they sleep and hide from theburning sun or torrential monsoon, and they seem tobe a place to seek some semblance of privacy. Indre2, a middle-aged man, mentioned that hiscommunity has lived on this site for 35 years, havingemigrated from the Faizabad district. Since that time, life has been a daily battle for survival forthem and their children. They have already been relocated by the government once, and thiscould happen again at any time. They have nothing except an unconditional commitment to lifethat allows them to overcome all obstacles. Neither Momta, a seven-years-old girl, nor Akshel, her nine-years-old brother, have everstepped into a school. This is also the reality for 100 other children between 6 and 14 years oldwho reside there. The fate of 120 children aged six years old and under will be exactly the sameif nothing is done. Unfortunately, this is their reality and their fate. All schools require a birthcertificate that these children do not have. However, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)program, developed by the Indian Government to ensure a basic universal education, schooling1 Upper picture : Sangam Park jhuggi2 Bottom picture : Indre (lower right side), with his community children 5
  • 7. Children’s situation in slums of Delhifor children 6-14 years old must be free and compulsory 1. Thisprogram even includes the creation of new schools in placeswhere infrastructure is deficient. None of this is accessible forchildren of this slum2. Here, one cannot imagine worse miseryfor children. In 1975, after the promulgation of childrens fundamentalrights by the Indian parliament, the government established theIntegrated Child Development Services (ICDS). It is a universalprogram for children 0-6 years old whose goals are to promotepreschool education and to counter the vicious circle ofmalnutrition, infant mortality and reduced learning ability. Drinking water is not available nearby. Residents musttravel over a kilometer to get it. The water for other necessitiesruns for a couple of hours, every day, from the community tap.There are no toilets at all. Each person has to find a place awayfrom the community, near the railway track, in order to preventbad odors from invading the jhuggis. Everyone tries to find a job in order to survive 3. Somemen improvise as hawkers; others manage to sell goods orcommodities at the edge of the road. Occasionally, they are hiredfor a day for any sort of manual work by someone from aneighboring community. Certain women are hired as domesticservants in homes. Others collect old clothes from house to housefor a second hand clothing service. They get a few rupees inexchange. The children help their parents in the waste fieldswhere garbage is regularly heaped on the other side of the1 Upper picture : This young woman never got the opportunity to go to school.2 Middle picture : Young children and Indre, the community chief.3 Bottom picture : A mother cleaning some plants for cooking. 6
  • 8. Children’s situation in slums of Delhirailway. Some families get a few cents by selling recyclable materials. Some children gosearching for money. Today, I was among them, sitting on the floor,surrounded by two dozen curious children and someadults. As soon as the children arrived, they broughtwith them a cloud of flies1 and the smell of dirt. Noneed to be a dermatologist to be aware of the chronicinfections and skin diseases afflicting some of thesechildren. Several children were stark naked, whileothers had very dirty clothes. Looking a little further, Isaw a mother trying to remove lice from her child’s hair. I guess I know the reason why otherchildren’s heads were shaved. After thanking everyone, I observed some children playing in the alley. Near them werethree or four pigs enjoying the mud. In this environment these children will grow up. There is poverty and there is misery. Today, I saw the latter... Just before leaving, a manfrom the community opened his wallet and showed me his taxi rickshaw drivers license. He wasproud. He has been trained and he knows how to do something that provides him with a dignifiedlivelihood. Will the children from this community have the chanceto receive an education in the future? It seems to me that this isthe key to many things, as is their smiles. ********** A few weeks later, Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Alam andDavid Emmanuel Hatier visited for the second time the Kanjarcommunity of Sangam Park. They discussed more in depth withthese people about their priorities for a better life. Arun 2, a 141 Upper picture : A bunch of mosquitoes lay on children’s faces.2 Bottom picture : Arun 7
  • 9. Children’s situation in slums of Delhiyears old boy, told us: “I don’t get any money, I can’t go to school, and there is no way to getnew clothes”. For the numerous kids of this community, access to education is impossible. Gudia,a 12 years old girl, was going to school in Mayapuri before her family moved here. Puja, also 12years old, was going to school, but when her slum was destroyed, her family moved here and shehad no more access to education. They all were saying: "Please do something to educate us". Vijay1, a 10 years old boy, told us: "Schools won’t admitus, because we are Kanjars". This affirmation was surprising...We discussed this with the parents who were present. In fact,the problem is not about being or not being Kanjars, but ratherabout having a birth certificate. Schools dont admit kids whoare not officially registered, even though education for 6 to 14years old is supposedly universal. So we determined that the first step would be to get anofficial birth certificate for each child. In order for us to achievethis, they must collaborate, as neighborhood support will beneeded. We asked the children around us several questions. Even the youngest kids had somequestions to ask us. For them, it was a special occasion to get adults’ attention and to share a littlebit about themselves. Arun told us that his dream house would be a bungalow. Clearly, these kidshave the same dreams as any other kid. He also told us that if the Kanjar boys circulate in acommunity, police could catch them, under the excuse that they are disturbing the public order.Then they have to pay 5000 rupees to be freed. In the same vein, while we were speaking with them today, some policemen came andasked us what we were doing here with a camera. They told us that it would be better for us notto go into the slum, because these people may rob or attack us, especially in this community. Dr.Alam told the policemen that he has been in touch for months with this Kanjar community, andthat nothing of the kind has ever happened. We believe that prevention rather than repressionreduces social problems.1 Picture : Vijay 8
  • 10. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiWazeerpur Village, behind Murga Market In Wazeerpur Village, behind the MurgaMarket, some families work collecting waste. Thechildren of this community have the chance to go toschool, but living conditions are very precarious.Many families have a monthly income of less than Rs5000 and they must make huge sacrifices so theirchildren can enjoy some years of studies. Accordingto Parween, a resident of this community, one of twogovernment schools requires the families to pay on their own a part of the expenses associatedwith buying a school uniform for their children 1. Although education is theoretically free, amonthly contribution is also sought. For many children, this issue leads to an anticipated schooldropout. Many parents prefer their children to quickly earn a small salary rather than see themsitting in a classroom. Fourteen years is the minimum age to work. However, most people do notrespect this law because families are large and must meet all members’ needs. The appeal for instant money is also very strong among teenagers. Many of them havetold us that they have stopped their studies because they were taught concepts and skills whichthey would never be useful for living. One of these boys has learned to repair cars. He considersthat his salary is satisfactory. But how will he support his own family? Another teenager had todropout school when he was in fifth standard because, after missing a few days of class, his namehad been withdrawn from the list of pupils, and he was forbidden to step on that school. Dochildren exist for schools or do schools exist for these children? We met Asif, a four and a half years old boy. He says to be very proud of his father, arickshaw wallah who works hard to meet his family´s needs. Asifs mother told us that none ofher preschool aged children has benefited from the Integrated Child Development Services(ICDS) which should be accessible to all Indian children under the age of six years old.1 Picture : Dr. Alam, right side, is discussing with Wazzerpur Village unhabitant, including Parween. 9
  • 11. Children’s situation in slums of Delhi Faizan 1, 10 years old, wants to be a doctor. When he toldus that, the other kids were laughing at him as if this could notbe possible. The father of Sonji, nine years old, is a driver. "Imonly a driver," he told us. Although this job is very humble, wehave answered him that he makes his living honestly and thishelps the society in an honorable way.1 Picture : Faizan 10
  • 12. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiSultanpur District, near the bus terminal In Delhi, there are many immigrant familiesworking in the sorting of waste in one of the manyareas in the capital. Near the bus terminal in Sultanpur,West Delhi, live fifty Muslim families from the state ofWest Bengal and from Bangladesh1. These peoplehave emigrated in Delhi specifically for the purpose ofworking for a few years in the sorting of waste. Andthey hope to set aside some money and then return totheir original region and have a better quality life.Some of these families arrived few months ago whileother families arrived few years ago. The families’answer about the length of their stay in this place isunclear: "We will go back home in a few years, whenwe have amassed a little money." These people earn onaverage Rs 60 per day according to the amount ofmaterial sorted. As all members of the family work,they manage to save money somehow2. Their jhuggis are built in the same place as therecycling waste, in the midst of garbage. For drinkingwater or any water use, These people must walkseveral hundred meters in order to get water to drink orfor general use. But often there is not water. This is the environment where children grow up.They don’t go to school anymore since they are in Delhi. Reshma3, a 14 years old teenager, whohas dropped out school in 7th standard, told us while her father was away: "My father does notwant me to go to school". She said she is terribly unhappy with her life over here. She does nothave any dream for her future life.1 Upper picture : Bengali children living in Sultanpuri2 Middle picture : Young boys already working with their parents in waste recycling3 Bottom picture : Reshma (left side) and the interpreter Jeewika Bhat (right side) 11
  • 13. Children’s situation in slums of Delhi When her father arrived, he told us that he has four children, and that the school wouldlead to a needless cost for the family. He said children are more useful when they work. When weproposed him to send one or two of his children to school, he remained hesitating. In this way,the other kids could work during daytime and could receive some free academic lessons fromtheir brothers and sisters who go to school. Some other parents were listening to our proposal, butapparently, they do not believe in education. Moreover, the birth certificates of their childrenhave remained in their region. There is therefore no way to register their children to go to school. Bengali children are not in contact with the outside world. Their different ethnic originand their inability to speak Hindi limit their social interactions with other cultures. Thus, they arerestricted to the knowledge available inside their micro-community. Tchotu1, an 11 years old boy, is a child who can understandand speak Hindi. When we asked him what is his favorite hobby,he replied confident: "Working!" Children feel happy when theyare useful for their parents, for their family and for society,regardless their living conditions. Unfortunately, these children donot know other reality than "working". Maybe would Tchotu feeleven more useful for his family and especially for his own futurefamily if he had the opportunity to go to school...?1 Picture : Tchotu 12
  • 14. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiNew Seelampur, Block K The slum of New Seelampur is the largestslum in the city of Delhi, with its 48,000 jhuggis. Ahigh percentage of Delhi´s Muslim population lives inthese areas, in which Muslim population isrepresented as 70%. Seelampur is a slum that hasexisted for fifty years. Most people living there wereborn and grown up in this slum. Due to the loweducation level and their traditional religious beliefs,the birth rate is still very high. This factor reduces the amount of resources available per capita,thus raising the social problems concerning health, sanitary conditions1, shelter and education. The New Seelampur district is extremely dense. Tiny shadylanes separate the three-storey buildings made of bricks. Thefamilies live often in a humid room without air circulation. Theremoval of dirty wasted water is very slow, which causes anincrease in unsanitary conditions inside the lanes2. The abundantflies are an important way of disease transmission. In recent years,residents enjoy a fairly good electricity service and they have goodaccess to water. Drinking water comes free in many places between5:00 AM/PM and 7:00 AM/PM. People keep water in buckets,according to their needs. At the price of one rupee, anyone couldmake use of the toilets and showers available in the slum. Most children in this slum go to school, or at least they have attended for some years.Compared to children in other slums, we have noticed that the fact of having some academiceducation facilitates their capacity of introspection and their ability to express what they feel andwhat they believe.1 Upper picture : Open area on the outskirts of the slum2 Bottom picture : A lane in Seelampur 13
  • 15. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiFAMILY PORTRAITS In the slums, the neighbors live together as ifthey were all brothers and sisters. It is common tohear them call to each other as “cousins”. Usually,families live in a one room jhuggi1. When childrengrow up and start their own family, they move toanother jhuggi as soon as they can afford it sometimesafter a couple of years. It is common that seven toeight people live in the same room measuring aboutsix meters squared, which are settle as kitchen, dining room, bedroom and living room.Alina’s family Alina is a woman of a certain age who has eightchildren 2. Her five boys are named Nadim, Hunger, Faiyaz,Riyaz and Sharuk. Her three daughters are Parveen, Shaheenand Shama. Two of the boys, Nadim and Hunger, work inconstruction. There are plenty of job opportunities, but thesalaries are miserable compared to the physical effort that mustbe employed. Faiyaz and Riyaz work in manufacturing, wheresalaries are also very low. Sharuk, the fifth son, is HIV andtakes drugs. His mother is worried about his health. She wouldlike to find a health center that could attend him for free. Faiyaz is household head and he is the father of five children. His mother talks about himwith esteem. She mentioned that her four other sons "do a bit whatever they want ..." Parveen dropped out school when she was in 12th standard, as Shaheen also did when shewas in 10th standard. Fortunately, both have undertaken a nurse course since three months ago.1 Upper picture : Some members of a family in their jhuggi.2 Bottom picture : Alina (right side at the back), with one of her daughters (in the middle) and some of her grandchildren. 14
  • 16. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiEach one has two children. Shama dropped out school in 9 th standard. Now, she teaches childrenuntil 6th standard. Like all mothers, Shaheen and Parveen must bring their children to school each morningand pick them up after classes. Although education is theoretically free, families must disburseRs 30 per child for every two months, which means around 150 rupees per year. In some schools,they must pay the uniform (300-400 rupees). In others, the uniform is provided for free. There arefrom 50 to 60 students per classroom. The parents of this family want their children to become "good people". For one of thesemothers, the most important thing is to do the best for her children. The adults give moreimportance to children talents as writing poems, singing and dancing.Sima’s family Sima is a 40 years old mother. She has livedin the Seelampur neighborhood for 18 years. Theonly changes that have improved the quality of lifefor this community are the access to electricity, anaqueduct service and a relatively near hospital. Hermother1, an old widow who lives with the family,does not receive a government pension. However,she should be entitled to get one. There are many people in this situation. This family´s jhuggi ison the outskirts of the slum. When they get out of their home, they face the edge of an open areawhere all kinds of waste and scrap are accumulated. Sima has three daughters: Ushma, Shain and Nisha. Her two boys are Asif andMohammed Kamil. This last one, a five years old boy, goes to a government´s school. This is theonly family that goes to school on a regular basis. Asif, a 17 years old teenager, is the eldest of the family and he is a craftsman. He earnsabout 2,000 rupees per month, working 12 hours a day during six days a week (U.S. $ 0.15 perhour). He stopped school in the 7th standard to work in order to support his family needs.1 Picture : Sima’s mother (right side) and one of Sima’s sisters (left side) 15
  • 17. Children’s situation in slums of Delhi Ushma´s fate is about the same. She left schoolin 9th standard, and then she attended a technicalcourse for a few weeks to work in a beauty center.This specialization allows her getting a bit highersalary than the average salary of the neighborhood.Nevertheless, she advises young children to study aslong as they can, if possible until the 10th standard. Shain knows how to make prettier the saris by embroidery. However, this art offers littleincome. She takes a few academic courses in Open School. Therefore, she does not have to showup in class, except for exams. Nisha is currently preparing for marriage. Particularly among Hindus, expenses incurredin such an event are extremely important. Neither Nisha, nor her family, are able to bear the cost.Therefore, all family members work during their free time in the recovery of metal, removing theplastic sheath that covers it. This is a very demanding manual job, which abyss fingers and hands.Working at a steady pace, everyone gets a volume of metal equivalent to three rupees per hour(U.S. $ 0.07 per hour). Before leaving the house of this family, Sima 1 asked us: "Would you beable to collaborate in any way to incur the expenses associated to our daughter´s marriage, due toour lack of money? We would like to get a donation. How many people live this situation?CHILDREN PORTRAITSSuab, seven years old Suab 2, a seven years old boy, should begin school thisyear, at the same time as his younger brother. His older brotherlives with an intellectual disability and is an economic weightfor the family, says his mother. Indeed, only two familymembers have a salary. For Suab, the smartest person he knowsis his friend who has the same age as him, due to his spirit of1 Upper picture : Sima (in the middle at the back) with her three daughters (at the back), her son (left side at thefront) and some other children.2 Bottom picture: Suab 16
  • 18. Children’s situation in slums of Delhisharing and cooperation. Suab believes that people from his community get sick due to themosquitoes that are found everywhere. Not going to school yet, Suab seemed rather intimidated by our questions that werepersonally addressed to him. We wish that he can actually begin school this year.Uzma, 12 years old Uzma1, a model student, could be an excellentexample of commitment and perseverance in studiesfor many children in slums and many Western children.Being 12 years old, she has three brothers and sisters.She is studying 8 th standard. When she received theChaudhry Mateen certificate for the best speakingskills in her school was a very memorable moment. Shesaid her greatest quality is her beautiful calligraphy.Since she is young, she dreams of becoming a doctor, considering that is a respected professionand because doctors are people appreciated. If she could do more for her community, she would clean her neighborhood up, she wouldbuild closer hospitals and schools and she would ensure that all children could go to school fromthe age of five years old. If her family had a little more money, she would have a better house andmore school supplies. On the assumption that her family would become even poorer, she humblyresponds that she would be able to manage and make everything work out. In her opinion, the most important quality for a person is to be brave, because it is theonly way to achieve what we want to reach. Conversely, the worst default is to be angry becauseit disturbs the mind and it is very bad. As the majority of children, she said she prefers her mother, since she spends most of thetime with her. She shows esteem for her father, because she is conscious about the big sacrificesthat he does to allow her go to school.1 Picture : Uzma (right side), her mother (left side), her brother and her sister. 17
  • 19. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiFarnaz, 15 years old When Farnaz1 was 11 years old, she lost her father. She has four sisters and two brothers.Since her father´s death, the whole family depends on the wages of his older brother. We askedher if she finds that life is good, she answers: "No,because I don´t have my father anymore. Ill survive,but Ill always feel his absence in my life." Farnazfinds her elder sister very intelligent, because shestudies at the University of Delhi and she teaches hermany things. If she was the mayor of her district,Farnaz would control the crime, detect drugs, send allchildren to school and ensure the cleanliness of publicspaces. As a dream for the future, she would become general doctor to attend poor people forfree. Besides, when she finds a coin in the street, she gives it to a beggar. Farnaz gives the following advice for other children: "Have a good behavior with yourparents and your neighbors, and always be respectful to your elders”.Shama, 14 years old Shama1 is a young 14 years old girl who pursues her studies in 9 th standard. She says sheis happy to be as she is, because she "goes on the right way". Shama will always remember thetime when she won the second place in the drawing competition from her school. It was amemorable day in which she felt truly happy. Shama loves life, because her parents are there totake care of her and she has all that she needs. She wants to become a doctor, because it is thedesire of her father. She appreciates particularly her elder brother who studies at the University of Delhi. Heencourages her to study and develop her talents. Moreover, for Shama, feeling brave is the bestemotion that a young teenager could feel. She wants to fight every day to overcome all thedifficulties. Shama hates especially to feel angry, because it becomes difficult to control herself.1 Picture : Farnaz (left side) and Shama (right side) 18
  • 20. Children’s situation in slums of Delhi Before going to sleep, she prays to Allah and she remembers that she needs to wake upearly the next morning because school starts at 7 oclock. Shama advice for young people aroundthe world is to take care of their health, to study hard and wishes that everyone´s dreams cometrue.Rabiya, 12 years old Rabiya1, a 12 years old girl, studies in 5th standard.Despite the apparently unfair gap between the rich and the poorin Delhi, she considers that the children who have more money"come from good families" and that "they are the India’sfuture". We asked her what she would do if she was the mayorof her neighborhood, Rabiya answered: "Before acting, I wouldhave a meeting in my community." The smartest person sheknows is her brother who is 18 years old. He works hard to earnthe daily bread for the family by carrying merchandise with arickshaw. Rabiya has never felt as proud of herself as when she participated in a theater play at herschool as part of the celebrations of India´s Independence Day, on August 15, 2009. She waselected from among approximately 50 students for the main role. She wants to become a doctor to be able to cure all types of diseases. Rabiya feelshealthy, despite sometimes a bit of coughing and headaches. She believes that people of hercommunity has become ill because of the mosquitoes, the contaminated water and the garbage.Hena, 13 years old Hena1 is a 13 years old girl studying in 4th standard. She wants to live in a healthierenvironment: "Sometimes I have strong headaches or fever when Im at school. Im so unjustlypunished because I work slower..." Hena is therefore trying to keep her surroundings as clean aspossible: "I want to set an example to people concerning the cleanliness," she told us. If she had1 Picture : Rabiya (left side) and Hena (right side) 19
  • 21. Children’s situation in slums of Delhithe power and resources, she would ensure a better birth control in her community and she wouldlike to provide wheelchairs and a better health care for people with physical limitations. Hena dreams of one day becoming an inspector, "but not as the corrupted inspectors, butrather to really try to eliminate the crimes," she adds. She finds that life is pleasant, but shebelieves that many people are mean because they kill others under the excuse of ensuring theirown lifel. Few years ago, she participated in a dance competition in her native village of Bihar. Sherecalls with pride that she won the first place among all participants.Saana, 12 years old Saana1 is one of the 11 children in her family.Her favorite hobby is to ride a bicycle. She says sheloves "the feeling of going fast." She is a good studentand she would love to become a doctor. She also enjoyssewing. She appreciates specially one of her elderbrothers. He shares many things with her and tells herkindly what to do and what not to do. Obviously, Saana breathes peace. When she feels sad, she says that she tries to focus moreon the work she is performing. Thus, sadness leaves her. Seeing people fighting displeases her atthe highest point: "People should not fight for any reason," she says. She told us that the mostimportant quality that someone must develop in life is to be optimistic: "If you want to becomesomeone, it takes absolutely this quality”. Before leaving, Saana wanted to leave the following advice to children around the world:"Go to school every day, have a good behavior and be well dressed”.1 Picture : Saana (at the front), with her two parents (left side) and one of her elder brothers (right side). 20
  • 22. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiMehek, 9 years old Mehek1 is obviously a very bright girl. She is only 9years old and she studies in 5th standard. When she was in 3rdand 4th standard, she finished in 2nd position of her class. Thisyear, she hopes to finish in 1st place. Mehek found her cousinvery smart, because she is able to communicate effectivelywhile speaking very quickly. When she was 4 years old, her parents got separated. Butnow Mehek told us she does not feel sad: "Im only 9 years old,I have no problem and my mother is near me, so why should Ibe sad?" I do not need to be sad. Being optimistic is veryimportant for her. She would like to make everyone happy, that is why she is so optimistic. If she could, Mehek would build better buildings for the slum and more schools. Shewould create new jobs for the poorest. Also, she would reduce or even eliminate the gap betweenrich and poor people: "I wish there was only one type of school for everybody," she says.Moreover, she believes that poor people are grateful to God, but rich people are not. For Mehek it is important to have a lot of friends: "I have 10 friends, 9 of which are veryvery good friends. And we are friends regardless of religion."Akach, 16 years old Akach is a 16 years old young man who has worked for four years. Like many otherteenagers, he dropped out of school when he was in 6 th standard. But the case of Akacha isspecial: he wishes to return back to school. "Several of my friends still go to school while I get amiserable salary. Now, they have a lot of knowledge that I have never acquired. This is why Iwould like to go back to school. This is the only opportunity to get out of misery."1 Picture : Mehek (right side), with one of her friends 21
  • 23. Children’s situation in slums of Delhi Unfortunately, Akach 1 has taken this decisiona little late because the school year begins in a fewdays. We wish him to succeed. When we asked himwhat he would do if he could not study this year,Akach replied: "I would work one year more, and Iwill absolutely apply for next year!" How many young people are in the samesituation and also arrive at the conclusion that the wages for no specialized work is absolutelypathetic? Akach has the courage to return to school. He is also lucky that his family supported hischoice. This is not the reality for many other teenagers.CHILDREN´S DRAWINGS In a school in New Seelampur, a teacher asked her 4th standard students to artisticallyrepresent the environment in which they would live when they grow up. On a sheet of paper, theyquickly designed some trees, flowers, a bright sun shining, a big house, etc. Some students draweven the Indian national flag floating at the end of a mast. A student has drawn her dream job,doctor, where she is treating a patient. Before submitting their design to the teacher, the students were all proud to sign theirname, sign of their uniqueness in the midst of so many other children.1 Picture : Akach (with yellow shirt), some members of his family (left side) and David Emmanuel Hatier (rightside). 22
  • 24. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiCONCLUSION Delhi’s slums and poverty are not about to disappear.For thirty years, people have been surviving in the same way,benefiting from limited resources. Only some elements havechanged. The accessibility of electricity, water and health carehas increased. The public education system has also improved.This is the main hope of a better future for the people of theslums1. During the meetings with children and adolescents inslums, significant differences between children receiving schooleducation and those that do not benefit from it were observed. Children attending school have abetter ability to speak and to look critically at their environment. Even the children who attendedschool for only a few years are more awaken. More resources should be invested to improve the quality of primary and secondaryeducation in poor neighborhoods of Delhi. It is appropriate that greater incentives are provided tofamilies to encourage parents to support the education of their children. In that way, childrenwould drop out school not as young as they do now. We could think of incentives as allowances,as sensibilization campaign or as a dropout prevention community program.1 Picture : A little kid with his father’s in Sangam Park, near the Dargah 23
  • 25. Children’s situation in slums of DelhiREFERENCESDupont, V. (2008). Slum demolitions in Delhi since the 1990s: An Appaisal. Economic & Political, Special article, 79-89.Majumbar, T. K. (1989). Urbanising Poor: A sociological Study of Low-Income Migrants’ Communities in the Metropolitan City of Delhi. New Delhi: Lancers. 24
  • 26. Children’s situation in slums of Delhi Annexe ILIST OF THE VISITED SLUMS 1. Sangam Park, near de Dargah of Hazrat Syed Shah (North Delhi) 2. Wazeerpur Village, behind Murga Market (North Delhi) 3. Sultanpur District, near the bus terminal (West Delhi) 4. New Seelampur, Block K (East Delhi) 25
  • 27. Children’s situation in slums of Delhi Annexe IISOME OF THESE QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN ASKED TO THE CHILDREN 26
  • 28. Children’s situation in slums of Delhi 27
  • 29. Children’s situation in slums of Delhi 28
  • 30. Children’s situation in slums of Delhi Annexe IIIACKNOWLEDGEMENTSSpecial thanks to Ms. Jeewika Bhat, MA student in Environment at the University of Delhi, forher services as an interpreter of Hindi and Bengali to English. Also thanks to Mr. Aslam Saifi,computer technician at SEWA, for his services as an interpreter of Hindi to English.Thank you to Réjean Tessier, Ph.D., professor in charge of the Internship in interculturalpsychology at Laval University.Thank you to Ms. Arshi Mukhtar, Muhammad Farhan Alam and Fatima Ambreen Alam for theirkind advices.Thank you to Dr. Vinod Sharma and other staff of the organization SEWA for their warmwelcome in the New Seelampur district and the resources at my disposal.Thank you to Dr. MJ Khan, director of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development(CARD), and his team at Headquarters CARD for the technical assistance provided.And especially thank you to Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Alam for his kind hospitality, hisexperience and his time during the data collection and patience during the production of thisreport.Sincerely,David Emmanuel Hatier 29