Thanks to Dining for Women, we are presently in the process of building up the
program in India to provide aid to 50 mothers and 100 daughters presently living in
the trash-dumps of Pune--home to some of the world’s most glaring gender-based
inequities, income- and otherwise (Tacoli, 2012; Sen, 2010). We will provide adult
literacy services, business skills, and microloans to the mothers to start small
businesses. We will enroll the daughters in primary school and provide free
tutoring and school supplies. Our overarching objective is to free these families of
the burden of selling and eating scraps found in the trash, and enable the mothers
to support their families by means other than wastepicking.
|Dresses made by Panmala Vasahat Self Help Groups
|Projects Manager Ms. Mrunalini Pendse (right)
in Panmala Vasahat, Pune, India
About 1.5 million people, primarily women from socially marginalized groups, work as
wastepickers in India (Chaturvedi, 2010). In Pune, the wastepickers belong to the Dalits
caste (the "untouchables"). At the lowest end of the urban occupational hierarchy, they
earn less than $1 per day. About 90% of wastepickers in India are women; half are under
the age of 35. Many were driven by famine from rural areas years ago. Despite the recent
economic growth in the country, still over one-third of Indians live below the country's
national poverty line and half of the entire underweight population (including adults) are
young girls (Sen, 2010). Although the city of Pune is renowned for its natural beauty, its
dump receives some 1000 metric tons of waste every day (see punegarbage.org), and at
least 10,000 wastepickers try to recover recyclables from the city’s trash (Chapin, 1995).
Living and working conditions are treacherous, as fires break out nearly daily.
Initially, our goal was to enroll some of these wastepicker children in school, and provide them
with basic school supplies such as uniforms, notebooks, and pencils. In June 2009, in
coordination with KKPKP (a union of wastepickers in Pune), The Unforgotten began enrolling
children in school. By June 2010, 31 child wastepickers were in the program.
With grant support from Dining for Women ($41,100 over two years), The Unforgotten will expand
it's program in India, adding microloans and business training for the mothers of these children,
so that the families can leave the wastepicking business. By the end of 2014, we plan to have 50
mothers and 100 girls in the program.
Our field teams, headed by Ms. Mrunalini Pendse, have been
working in the slum communities of Panmala Vasahat
(population 1000) and Rajiv Gandhi Nagar (population 750),
where many of the wastepickers live. Each Ward in the city has
its own trash bins/collection points which are like mini trash
dumps. Mothers and girls are generally found browsing through
these bins to collect recyclables as well. Wastepickers inhabit
slums near the well-to-do areas, because these privileged
consumers tend to throw out a lot of recyclable items like tin cans.
Two Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in Panmala Vasahat began a three
month tailoring course in June 2013. They've already sewn
beautiful and colorful dresses. The course was offered by the
Government's Human Resource Development Ministry, and paid
for by The Unforgotten. These women are ready for their first
order, and they are making polo shirts for The Unforgotten. If
you'd like one, please let us know. The cost would be $20, with
all proceeds going to the women in the SHG.
In January 2014, we had the pleasure of hosting a volunteer
French filmaking team that is helping us make a documentary of
our work, organized by Planete Urgence. We are indebted to Alain
and Michelle, field savvy and tireless, for training our young staff
how to make short films. Thanks to their efforts, and funding from
Planete Urgence, we hope to have a short film to share with you
shortly! Their efforts made the news: here's a link to a Marathi
article/photo in Sakal, a leading newspaper in Marathi. And
here's a translation in English.
Our sponsored girls are all doing well in school. We met with the
principal of The Raosaheb Patwardhan School—a private school
where several of our girls are attending. The school fees there
are very reasonable in cost ($60 per year), and the school does
an excellent job in providing education for needy children. After
our January 2014 meeting and field visits, we are considering
sending all of our sponsored girls to this school.
Asaki, B. & Hayes, S. (2011). Leaders, not clients: grassroots women's groups transforming social protection, Gender & Development, 19 (2), 241-253.
Chaturvedi, Bharati (2010) Mainstreaming Waste Pickers and the Informal Recycling Sector in the Municipal Solid Waste
Pandey, A. (2012). Language Building Blocks. New York: Teachers College Press. http://store.tcpress.com/0807753556.shtml
Pandey, A. (2010). The Child Language Teacher: Intergenerational Language and Literary Enhancement. Manasagangothri, Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages. 405pp.
Roever, S. & Linares, L.A. (2010). Street Vendors Organising: The Case of the Women’s Network (Red de Mujeres), Lima, Peru, Urban Policies Briefing Note No. 2, WIEGO.
Sen, G. (2010). Poor households or poor women: is there a difference? The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research, Policy, Sylvia Chant (ed), Edward
Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, pp 101-104.
Tacoli, C. (2012). Urbanization, gender and urban poverty: paid work and unpaid carework in the city. IIED, UN Population Fund, March.
Our work in India would not be possible without the support of Dining for
Women (DFW), Graphic Social Development Foundation (GSDF),
KKPKP, Planete Urgence (PU), and individual donors such as those from
the Combined Federal Campaign. GSDF and The Unforgotten have
merged as of January 2014; Ms. Vandana Naik of GSDF is now the
Country Director of Unforgotten India. DFW is providing grant funding to
support 50 mothers and 100 daughters, with the first half of the grant
received in February 2014. Individual donor funding, including those from
federal and state employees, are critical to sustaining these programs.
And continued coordination with KKPKP is vital to identifying mothers and
children in need. Thank you to ALL!!
INDIA PROGRAM VIDEO
|Maitreyi Shankar (left) and Poornima
Chikarmane of KKPKP. Many, many thanks!!
UNFORGOTTEN TEAM INDIA
Country Director: Vandana Naik
Projects Manager: Mrunalini Pendse
Director, Board: Ashwini Jog
Director, Board: Eeshaan Asaikar
Director, Board: Dhriti Nayyar
Director, Board: Rani Varma
KKPKP: Maitreyi Shankar
Field worker: Priya Alhat
Field worker: Shilpa Zombade
Accountant: Umesh Shah
|Alain and Michelle, helping Shilpa and
Priya shoot a documentary
|Michelle, Alain, Maitreyi, Shilpa, Mrunalini, Priya, Amit
|Umesh, Amit, Mrunalini, Vandana, Ashwini, Rani, Will
India Country Office:
Graphic House, Erangal
Village Bus Stop Fazalboy
Wadi, Madh Island, Malad (W)
Mumbai, 400061, India.
Ms. Vandana Naik:
Our objective is to empower girls and mothers and through their
continued advocacy and leadership, to transform and uplift
entire communities from the ground up (see Asaki & Hayes,
2011; Roever & Linares, 2010) through qualitative education,
adult and family literacy (Pandey, 2012; 2010), and accessible
financial independence offerings.