NGO finds opportunity in slum walk
Arwin Burns, a Dutch tourist, walks out of a Faridpuri slum damp with sweat after three hours of treading the bleaker streets of west Delhi. He, along with three others, is a participant in a “slum walk”, on which tourists are guided through slums for a fee to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of poverty.
Everyone on the walk is parched. The searing dry weather foreshadows the coming monsoon, set to complicate life for the countless slum residents passed on the tour.
“There is a water problem, an electricity problem, and the road condition is not up to mark,” says Arjun Humae, a resident of Faridpuri, near Patel Nagar. “Those issues become a lot worse because of the monsoon. Disease will spread, garbage will spread.”
PETE (Providing Education for Everyone), a charitable organisation in Delhi, tries to install water tanks, build shelter and provide education in poverty-stricken areas. To raise money, they began conducting slum tours three months ago.
“I took a city walk with (a non-profit that does similar tours) in Paharganj and saw that they were only going to the city,” says Shiva Chapra, head of PETE.
Chhapra says the R300 fee for the tour goes directly to tour guides, who are slum residents themselves, for water tanks, a roof for their school, and other means to help the community.
Some, however, such as Humae, say improvements are taking too long. “No change has taken place yet, and we think it will take another one-and-a-half years to see things progress.”
Slum tourism is growing worldwide. Tours are appearing all over the world, from the Dharavi area of Mumbai, to favelas in Rio de Janeiro and townships of Cape Town. This has led to much controversy, especially in the international media.
“Where there’s good, there’s bad as well; you cannot satisfy everyone,” says Chapra. He believes that if more critics see what the organisation is doing, “how the money’s been used for the projects, for the kids and for the community,” they may reconsider their positions.
“This slum walk tour is funding a school for these people and trying to give these people a better life,” Burns says, explaining why he chose to pay for this particular experience. He says he may consider taking part in another such tour again, but only if “it also provides for the people and not only (the company) themselves”.
In light of this debate, Dr Fabian Frenzel, a researcher at the University of Leicester, is undertaking a study to investigate whether slum tourism makes a beneficial impact, or is “merely some cynical form of entertainment”.
The National Human Rights Commission on Friday said it had taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about four children in Maharashtra's Nagpur testing positive for HIV with of them even dying following blood transfusion for treatment of Thalassemia. The rights panel said it had sought a report from the government of Maharashtra within six weeks. The NHRC said if the media reports were true, the incident amounted to violation of human rights.
Former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was admitted to KEM Hospital in Mumbai on Friday after he complained of chest pain. He is currently in jail in connection with a money laundering case. Notably, the Former Maharashtra Home Minister was arrested by ED in November, last year in connection with the alleged ₹100-crore extortion and money laundering case.
Mussoorie: Three pilgrims including a driver from Maharashtra died while 10 others were seriously injured when the vehicle they were travelling in plunged into a deep gorge at Dabarkot between Orji and Sayana Chatti on the Yamunotri highway night on Thursday night, police said. The pilgrims from Maharashtra were on their way to Yamunotri shrines when the incident occurred, officials said.
An afternoon swim went awry after two boys drowned in the Dodda Gubbi lake in the Kothnur area of Bengaluru on Thursday. Search operations have recovered two bodies so far. A third body is still missing. The other two shouted for help when they couldn't spot the trio. An extensive search followed but failed to recover their bodies and had to be suspended after bad light on Thursday evening.
All the seven candidates in the fray for the biennial election to Karnataka Legislative Council, slated to be elected by the Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs), were on Friday declared as elected "unopposed". The declaration paved the way for the BJP to gain a majority in the Upper House as four out of the seven new members are from the ruling party, two from Congress and JD(S) one.