Candace's & Jack's visit to Dharavi Slum
Jack and I visited Dharavi Slum today which is the second largest slum in the world. There are approx 1.25m people living in just over .75 sq miles. This is where Slum Dog Millionaire was filmed. While I loved this movie, it did a horrible injustice of the reality. First of all, this is not what we think of as slums- poor people who have no where else to go and can not afford better. This is not the case at all. These people choose to live in the slums and as a matter of fact, they could get a much larger apartment with much better conditions in other areas for cheaper however, they choose to live here. They are happy here. This slum makes more than $65m (on the books however estimated total revenue off the books is over $1b) annually on recycling, leather goods, clothing and baked goods. They even make their own machinery to use for the recycling and leather goods. We toured this slum for about 4 hours and walked more than 6 miles through the small (tiny) alleyways and never once did a single person or child ask me for money. We were not allowed to take photos in the slum although one of the gentleman with us took the photo of jack and I in the alley when no one was looking. The people here are VERY hard workers. This is all they know but they are happy, healthy and enjoy living here. This community has Muslim and Hindu living peacefully together. A few years back the Mumbai government tried giving some of the people living in the slums housing elsewhere in exchange for the land. They found that after a short time, the people left the housing of better condition to move back to the slums. It is the life they know and what makes them happy. Overall, I did not find it to be dirty. In the area where they do the recycling, there is more trash on the ground however, trash is their business! But in the other areas, I found it to be pretty clean giving the situation (dirt walkways with mud puddles, power which is very much rigged and spliced wiring, etc). I left there exhausted from being so alert and observant of every sight and sound but loved the experience and learning how others live.
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