Walking down the Urban Poor’s Lane

By Shivani Singh, PRIA

There is a popular belief that ‘seeing is believing’, when we see something from our eyes the tendency to believe in that particular thing increases. Also similar to this statement is another saying that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. The idea is not to undermine the importance of writing and other forms of media but to present an altogether different way of sensitizing the unconverted populace on the problems related to urban poverty and urban governance. In the city of Delhi as well as other cities there are organizations and groups that have been formed who organize tours, walks, exposure visits to slum areas and many of them even earn out of this venture. It is their way of mobilizing funds. The idea seems to be interesting as such tours or walks can be organized in the slums where organizations are working with urban poor and have established a healthy rapport with the community overs the years.

Following are the examples of exposures, tours and walks that are being organized.

  1. SEWA Academy- Exposure and Dialogue Programme

Exposure and Dialogue Programmes (EDP) is a means to sensitize and organize members, colleagues and institutional leaders towards the poverty and work – related issues faced by our members. Exposure and Dialogue Programmes use the strategies of immersion, reflection and dialogue to expose senior level technocrats and bureaucrats to the realities of the people whom their policies and projects might affect. Accompanied by local facilitators, these senior officials spend a few nights in the home of a rural orurban SEWA member. They follow her daily routine at home and at work in order to understand poverty from her perspective. After the exposure, participants reflect on their experiences and enter a process of dialogue aimed at analyzing, understanding and even changing policies to make them more focused on the needs and reality of women workers in the informal economy.

More details can be searched on http://www.sewaacademy.org/pdf%20files/3.01%20EDP.pdf

  1. Salam Balak Trust- City Walk

The Salaam Baalak Trust City Walk aims to make the story of the children of the street heard and to give a view of their world through their eyes. Participants of City Walk get to go on a journey through the enchanting streets of the inner city of Paharganj and the area around New Delhi railway station, led by a child who was once living and working on the streets. This walk takes on a journey through the backstreets of Delhi with a child who has been fully trained as a local guide. It’s a unique way of providing an insight into the lives of these children and an opportunity for them to improve their communication and speaking skills.

The confidence and witty smiles of these guides have little trace of the years spent on the streets of New Delhi. The past is however, very much present on the walk. For the guides, it is a walk down the memory lane, the places held dear to them and how they faced the odds to survive to be where they stand proudly today. Whether the guide is Satender, Ajay, Iqbal, Tabrez, Tariq or any other City Walk Guide, feel free to question and learn as much as we can of life on the streets. We might realize, as wewalk along, that the distance you covered was much greater than that between the New Delhi Railway Station and the SBT office.

More details can be searched on http://www.salaambaalaktrust.com/city-walk.asp

  1. Reality Tours and Travel-Slum Tours

Dharavi Tours, visitors see on foot why Dharavi is the heart of small scale industry in Mumbai. Through our tour through ‘India’s largest slum’ visitors experience a wide range of these activities: recycling, pottery-making, embroidery, baking, soap-making, leather tanning, poppadom-making and many more.

When passing through the residential spaces, wecan feel the sense of community and spirit that exists the area. People from all over India live in Dharavi and a tour through its narrow alleys is quite an adventure- the visitors leave with an enlightened sense of the purpose and determination that exists in the area.

One of the main objectives of Dharavi tours is to break down the negative attitudes that many people have towards people from less developed communities- particularly the slums. The common stereotype – often reinforced by media and popular culture – of idle, passive and often criminal slum-dwellers is something we strive to change.

The company is a social business. 80% of all profits is used for the activities of sister organization and NGO (charity) Reality Gives. What it means in reality is that between 25% and 35% of the income generated by Reality Tours is used for Reality Gives’ activities.

Reality Gives runs a community centre and Youth Empowerment Program in the Dharavi area, and provides English language support at a local government school. They also support projects run by other NGOs in the Dharavi area.

More details can be searched on http://www.realitytoursandtravel.com/slum-tours.html

  1. Slum Walk by PETE

This walk is organised by Pete, an NGO. This is a guided tour through the slum for 2-3 hours. We get to see thousands on familites living there. While in the slum, we can interact and listen to urban poor’s personal story of survival and life. This tour costs 500 rupees and the funds collected for walk goes towards running 3 schools named nirvan  school in Kathputli  colony One vocational school for womens living in slums (women empowerment),Kindergarden (For street kids) and primary (non formal education) Plus with community kitchen to provide kids midday meals everyday and supporting their other ongoing and future projects , a  More details can be searched on

More information, you can visit website http://peteindia.webs.com/

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