At 3am on January, the 22nd the residents of Naya Nagar, the pipeline area close to Sion-Link Road in Dharavi noticed a fire which soon became massive and burnt more than 25 houses down.
Dharavi Diaries is a new innovative project that works in this area and is especially concerned of the women issues. They have started with a short movie about the evictions of the families who live at the pipelines but soon created a much bigger vision – to create a sustainable livelihood program so that the women can rise out of poverty by themselves by creating well-designed and desirable products out of recycled materials. It was started by the film student Nawneet who will document the whole process to communicate the needs of the community to the world. We recently got in touch with Dharavi Diaries to source products made by the women. When the fire burnt down the houses and thereby all the work materials of the women involved in the project Reality Gives bought four sewing machines for Rs 27,000 so that the women can go back to normal life as soon as possible. Shabnam Sheikh and Hameda Sheikh received two of them.
Shabnam is a widow in her late thirties who lost most of her household in the fire. She could only take out her eight children who were in deep sleep at that wee hours. She has been working as house maid in the nearby neighborhood and earning a living. Two of her elder sons work in the recycling workshop and help in the livlihood. Her youngest daughter, Kashish, only goes to the school at this time. Dharavi Diaries gave Shabnam money to buy Kashish her school bag, school dress, books and shoes which were burnt that unfortunate morning.
Also Hameda is a widow of 42 years. She lost most of household items like bed, few utensils, sewing machine in the fire. She could save some of the cloth items and few utensils too. She has been making a living by giving home tuition of Urdu language in the neighborhood. She has got one daughter and two sons. She is 26 years old and married. Two of her sons have drug abuse problem. She is having problem to deal with them single handedly. Dharavi Diaries started a dialogue with them. Shabnam joined the workshop at first to learn basic design skills and make laptop bags, travel pouch, tablet cover, wallet and purse etc from recycle material. Later Shabnam brought Hameda to the workshop. They want to make more of these products and increase their income. This will help them to bring their kids back to school and also provide hygienic food. Dharavi Diaries have been in touch with them constantly to help come in terms with this difficult situation. They provided food to them for few days before the food was distributed by individuals and agencies. The future plan with these participants is to look for orders for products they are making and sell them. This will build their confidence and increase their income. Thus it will help them to send their kids to school and give nutritious food too. Dharavi Diaries also plans to do a Product Design Lab in Dharavi where the product designer from around the world can come and exchange ideas with the women and workers in Dharavi.
The houses of these women still lack a proper structure and they are missing a lot of household materials. If you would like to help, either by providing items for their homes or by connecting them to product designers and product distributors so that they get more orders in soon.
Find Dharavi Diaries also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dharavidiary