For Whom: Migrant workers of the age group (15-35 years of age)
Focus Areas: Recreation, Outside ‘site and room’, Exploration / Creative Space
Recreation – Games for relaxation of mind and to give a few stress-free moments, movie/video watching, playing outdoor sports. ‘Having fun’ is the sole objective in mind while planning or doing these activities.
Outside ‘site and room’ – Stepping out of the ‘site-and-home space’ which could include Ahmedabad sight-seeing (entertainment sites, sites which appreciate nature, and heritage sites with information on their importance), attending seminars or events, tour of NGOs, corporate offices, banks, malls, ward office, government offices, dining at Mc Donalds’ or the likes. Most important objective here is to show them the world outside their construction site (or other working space) and their slum.
Exploration/Creative space – Platform to showcase talents, space to explore interests, chance to perform like street plays, dance, bhajans, etc. opportunity to put forward learning interests (like learning Angrezi (English) language which I heard often), interactive sessions by knowledgeable people on specific themes, circle to share thoughts and views on different issues. Objective here is to learn new things which are of their interest and also for showcasing their talents.
Coming to operations, open source in style. Meaning, anyone (from outside) can feel free to give ideas, or come explore the space or to interact with the people/community here, or even explore themselves through this medium.
Points to be kept in mind: Migrant workers lead extremely exhaustive physical life on a daily basis. They wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning and then prepare breakfast which takes much more time than preparing a bread toast (they prepare ‘roti sabji’). They then do their morning ablutions while keeping in wait other 10-15 people who live with them in their small room. All this hurried-ness is to reach ‘naka’ sites by 8 o’clock in the hope of finding work each and every day. By 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening they return to their extremely congested rooms and again take on the task of preparing dinner (‘roti sabji’) which is yet again a time consuming process. These above few lines can hint at the reason why there is such a prevalent habit of constantly chewing tobacco or relieving in bidi smoke or even de-stressing in cheap liquor.
Constraints: Time availability for them – small window of 2 hours at night; very little of this kind of proposed experience (I mean initiatives similar to youth club) earlier, and so learning mistakes do happen; not their permanent abodes; stressed bodies already; most shy in nature. Keeping in line with these constraints, the following is an example of one of the evenings (/early nights) I spent in their little room (or shed to be more appropriate) – A few mildly drunk, one just happy having fun with his dough, cool breeze seeping in through holes in those walls, pleasant climate owing to the time of the day, ‘bam bhole nath’ of Bob Marley playing in the background with just the right amount of volume, and everyone sharing laughs. It felt really as if I was transported to the ‘bhole nath’s’ place and can only assume how they would have been feeling right then. And so right there in front of me there was a challenge on how to tackle that lovely moment they were experiencing in that little shanty hole-ridden shed with this concept of youth club.
Initiative already got off the ground and a room (small one) is taken on rent for this purpose, in the same area where a decent number of migrant workers live. Finally to sum it up, objective is to create a home outside home for migrant workers.
P.S.: I currently am working from Ahmedabad. Slums or call them valley-of-spits are heavily populated. Deadly municipal latrines when seen from the time the sun is right above our head. Once there, life could actually seem boring outside slums!