Tag Archives: Working

My First Real Slum

Here is your warning:  If you are not prepared to have your hearts moved and your eyes moistened then read no further and come back to this site some other day.  But, if you can read through to the end you may find hope.

Today I visited a slum in India.  I had no idea what to really expect.  Drawing a comparison to the weekend trip to South Central L.A. in High School is impossible.  I might imagine that there may be someplace like this place in the United States, but I find it hard to do so.

I’ll share some images of what I found.  There are far too many to post here and when I come back you should take the time to come and see me and get a better idea how life is here for these people.

In talking I found out that they wake up around 6 am and get the morning started with washing clothes, cooking the morning meal and then off to work where they will make about 300 Rupee, 50 of which they will pay to the person that found them the job.  Every two days you go and get your water in at “crossroad” type location.

Woman, assisted by children, getting drinking water.
Woman, assisted by children, getting drinking water.

After getting water this little girl followed me down an alley of the slum, curious about me and my camera.  She was a bit shy, but stopped long enough when I turned around for this snapshot.

Beautifully dressed Indian girl in pink contrasted by the living conditions she is surrounded by in the slum.
Beautifully dressed Indian girl in pink contrasted by the living conditions she is surrounded by in the slum.

When you take your meals in the slum once a week – if your lucky and you work hard – you can afford chicken or even fish from the local market, but normally your meal is rice with a leaf like spinach plant and tomatoes all boiled together.  Indians eat with their fingers and you would sit outside your hut and enjoy the meal, much like this lady.

This woman was taking her morning meal and allowed me to take her picture.  After approving of my work she went back to her meal.
This woman was taking her morning meal and allowed me to take her picture. After approving of my work she went back to her meal.

Working in the slum is not easy.  Men gather scrap from nearby neighborhoods and sort it, bringing it in on tricycle carts by the mountain full.

This man on a tricycle cart was hauling plastic to be sorted and eventually sold for recycling.
This man on a tricycle cart was hauling plastic to be sorted and eventually sold for recycling.
This man is sorting refuse for recycling.  It's long, hot work, but it's work in the slum.
This man is sorting refuse for recycling. It’s long, hot work, but it’s work in the slum.
Metal is stripped from discarded items to be recycled.  Boys learn how to strip the metal from the objects from their fathers.
Metal is stripped from discarded items to be recycled. Boys learn how to strip the metal from the objects from their fathers.

This woman motioned to me as I walked down her alleyway.  She wanted me to come in and see where she lived.  Her hut could not have been more than 8 feet by 10 feet.  I had trouble figuring out how to take a picture of it, even with a 17mm lens and 180 degree view.  The image you’ll see below is actually 6 images stitched together so you can get the entire view inside.  But first she proudly shows me her sewing machine, the way she makes a living.  It sits at the entry way to her hut.  Here in the slum, she is among the best off because she has a trade.

This woman proudly showed off her sewing machine and home to me.
This woman proudly showed off her sewing machine and home to me.
This is the woman's hut.  It is amazingly small.  This is all she has.  How many days could you live here?
This is the woman’s hut. It is amazingly small. This is all she has. How many days could you live here?

My time in the slum was drawing to a close.  I felt  pretty hopeless.  I was holding back tears, as I am now writing this.  250 Rupee is just $3.83 USD.  But as I wound my way out of the slum I came across this boy playing in the dirt alley.

This boy is playing in a dirt alley in a slum in India.
This boy is playing in a dirt alley in a slum in India.

I thought maybe there is hope for him.  Hope that he won’t learn to salvage metal from spent bullets, like his father next to him.  There is hope for him because earlier I met his mother learning to sew in an economic development community center here in the slum.

This woman is learning to sew in an economic development community center in India.
This woman is learning to sew in an economic development community center in India.

If she can earn enough money to help that boy get an education, who knows what the future might hold for him and the rest of this slum in India.