Higher, higher we will climb

by Swathi Subramaniam, PRIA

It is an uncommon sight to find a youth living in a high-rise building mingling and interacting with youth living in slums. On 13 November 2014, an attempt was made in B5 Bandhu Camp of VasantKunj, to bring together youth of community and youth of slum to talk to each other.

The Enact us society from SRCC, Delhi University works on social projects through implementation of sustainable livelihood solutions for slums and marginalized, http://www.enactusindia.org/index.php.

This was the very first time where a visit was made by undergraduate students studying in SRCC made an effort to meet the youth in Bandhu Camp B-5 slum. This interaction gave a first time exposure to youths living in the community to share their problems with the youth of their own age from a premier college of Delhi.
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The interaction focused on understanding the issues and limitations faced by youths in slums and possible direction for their future. Two groups were formed of boys and girls. The groups included youth from college and slum. The reason for forming separate groups was so that the girls in slums open up and express themselves without any hesitation. These discussions were held with the intention to understand the youth, their problems in the slum, their education background and their future aspirations.
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Educational level of the youth was good. Every child whether boy or girl went to school. They however struggled while pursuing higher education because of the level of difficulty and lack of guidance in their neighborhood. Tuition helped the students in performing better but the group felt that the fees are very expensive. Whenever the household expenses become high they are forced to discontinue their tuition.
The mobile toilets which were implemented with the help of SIC members in the B5 slum has been violated and has failed to serve the intended purpose. The slum dwellers have to now pay Rs. 2 per visit for using the toilets. As a result none of them are using it.

Another major problem identified by the youth of the community is solid waste management. The slum generates a lot of waste and there is no proper facility of waste disposal. All the waste is gathered and dumped in the forest area which is behind the slum. The area behind the slum is as well used for defecation, where the males have lot of space for defecation in the forest and due to safety issues women defecate near the slum itself. The waste of the slum dumped behind the slum gets cleaned once a year. The rag pickers from nearby Bengali basti collect the rags and sell it. The youth are not looking at collecting rags as a livelihood and aspire for better employment opportunities.

The youth identified alcohol as another major problem in their slums.

The youth of slums have been living in neighborhood of educated colonies and almost all the children have attended schools and some are pursuing higher studies. This has impacted the aspiration level of youth in the slum and they want to be in more dignified and respectable professions. They donot want to be rag pickers or daily wage earners. Their aspiration needs to be nurtured through regular counseling and access to appropriate skills. What our Prime Minister has quoted skill development is the need of the hour and youth of the slum is a perfect candidate to be benefited.

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