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14 February 2007

Social Work and Solutions

One of my collegues sent a mail as he was running for charity and the proceeds would go to Apnalaya- an organisation that was working in the community of Mumbai slums in Shivaji Nagar, an area of Mumbai where the waste of the city is used as land re-fill.

I thought I'd share memories from the past that Apnalaya triggers. Shivaji Nagar slums at that time did'nt even have the now road that connects to Mankhurd so it was truly back of beyond but close enough for me to travel. I did field work as a student social worker when I was about 18, i.e three week days full time, not part -time, for a whole year. Among other things our work as part of the BMC project in the municipal school involved reducing drop-out rates, non-formal education, low -cost nutrition and health. Apnalaya of course was one of our other placements in the area.

One of the highlights of that year was a year-end event we conducted- a three day sports event for the entire student strength of the four divisions of the municipal school, almost 3,500 in all i.e. Hindi, Marathi, Urdu and Telegu. It was a first.. and a huge success from planning to fundraising (all prizes were sponsored) to of course the actual implementation and one thing we ensured was that every child would get something, however small. It is one of the memories of the past I cherish, though at the end of the day, we were not a pleasant sight to see or smell when we returned home!

Incidentally, many years later, about four years ago, I met my field supervisor in the bank where I work much to my delight as I had lost touch with most of them. She was part of the bank CMS team in Andheri and shortly thereafter resigned and moved on to join another bank.

To think that even after all these years, the issues remain the same, the interventions have not changed and neither has anything else. Even as a professional social worker I had this niggling feeling, doubt, call it even a conspiracy theory, if we create the problems just so we have a lab to work in and feel good about it instead of actually setting our shoulders to finding solutions.

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