Beaches are celebrated to be a neighborhood for recreation, a place to let go of the day-to-day life and have a quiet time. It is, in most metropolitan cities, also known for its beach side properties and sea-facing villas for the affluent communities. But Mumbai, India’s economy capital differs from most cities. In this city, the beach becomes a liaison for the prosperous and the underprivileged. Residencies of both the prosperous businessmen and the deprived slum dwellers within kilometers of one another are hard to miss. The rich build high white-washed walls and fences around their villas and the underprivileged hang and dry clothes on them. The closed sea facing windows of the air conditioned rooms compliment the window-less shanties. The high walls meant to keep privacy inside the bungalows are used by couples who sit on the other side of the wall for a quick afternoon romance, seeking a piece of the privacy for themselves. In these beaches people’s resilience in co-existing and conquering the hardships of the social order become prevalent. A symbiotic relationship prevails, working and living through social discrepancy, and an act of triumph of human spirit, ignored perhaps because of their own cultural baggage.
About one million people live in Asia’s largest slum – Dharavi. Located in central Mumbai, the economic capital of India, this slum houses people migrating from all over India to follow their dreams . The people live in dire conditions and hope for a better tomorrow every day. This photo story explores hope, through the eyes of the next generation, the children in Dharavi.
There are a handful of schools in this vastly populated area. Madrasa Gausia Gulshane Bhagdar is one such school. Funded by Baba Lalmia Kakri trust, a small one room ‘kothi’, with a signboard above the gate is what comprises of the school. Approximately thirty five students study in this school, ranging from five year olds to sixteen -seventeen year olds. This school was started seventeen years ago . Sayyiad Lalmia is one of the only two teachers of this institution.
The school or madrasa has a strict curriculum. It provides religious teachings in Hifz – the memorization of The Holy Quran. Many of these children are pulled out from schools to work for their parents, to support the family, a handful only remain in schools every year. “Because kids get distracted easily and commit to the world of crime, we are trying to set the right goal for them, make them better human beings and give them hope through our teachings. We show them the way of Allah. By the time they leave the madrasa they will be ready for an honest life. “, says Sayyiad.
Life in Dharavi is arduous, and these children have to face the hardships from the very first days of their lives. But the next generation of slum dwellers still search for hope.