The other day we went to the “slum” by the river where thousands of people live in very poor conditions.
Over 40 per cent of Kolkata’s slum residents have been slum dwellers for two generations or longer, and more than half originate from the Kolkata hinterland. With the majority engaged in the informal sector, with average monthly earnings of between 500 and 1700 rupees and a household size of five to six persons, some three-quarters of the Kolkata slum population are below the poverty line.
The slums of Kolkata can be divided into three groups: the older ones, up to 150 years’ old, in the heart of the city, are associated with early urbanization. The second group dates from the 1940s and 1950s and emerged as an outcome of industrialization-based rural–urban migration, locating themselves around industrial sites and near infra-structural arteries. The third group came into being after the independence of India and took vacant urban lands and areas along roads, canals and on marginal lands. In 2001, 1.5 million people, or one third of Kolkata’s population, lived in 2011 registered and 3500 unregistered slums. The 1956 Slum Act defines slums as ‘those areas where buildings are in any respect unfit for human habitation’.
These are the people that the “A mano a mano” is supporting through volunteer work and donations. In just one year of activity they managed to create a little communal area the locals call “The Club”, where kids can play, learn and be cured by the volunteers.
Thanks to people’s generosity and the daily active effort of the members many kids could get access to education and healthcare.