Most waking hours of their difficult lives, the residents of Rajendranagar slum hope against hope that they could get by another day without their homes being inundated with sewage water and without another serious infection breaking out in their community.
They dread that another loved one might be electrocuted by the dangerous electrical wires hanging above their make-shift homes or that a wall would collapse on their family.
This is the everyday reality of this group of slum colonies near National Games Village in posh Koramangala – the largest in Bangalore, consisting of the EWS quarters, Ambedkar nagar, L.R.Nagar and Rajendra Nagar. Situated on a huge sewage drain, this slum is home to 13,000 families who are devoid of basic amenities such as proper housing, electricity and sanitation. Health and hygiene are a distant dream, as they suffer the stench and unhealthy living conditions made worse by the open drain. Promises of better housing and toilet facilities have never materialised as the slum dwellers remain ignored for decades.
Living in make-shift sheds constructed out of corrugated zinc sheets, an average family size here is around six. With hardly 60 square feet to share between them, living in these slums can be very difficult. In the summer the sheds are unbearably hot and when it’s monsoon season their homes fill up with several feet of water. The entire family crowds up on the one bed they have, and hope that the water does not rise any further.
Half the community has to walk for ten to fifteen minutes to find a paid public toilet. The women are the worse affected as they do not have access to basic sanitation and hygiene products, making them vulnerable to infections. For the women in Rajendranagar, cultural stigmas persist in combination with economic factors to prevent access to sanitary products and disposal methods that could mitigate some of the myths. During menstruation, many women here are faced with using alternatives such as rags, sawdust, ash, leaves, grass or newspapers which are incapacitating and uncomfortable and expose them to reproductive ailments.
They are the invisible people of our hi-tech city – a important part of our urban community but living in hazardous conditions. You can choose not to ignore them and make their lives better.
Sukhibhava, a social enterprise improving the quality of lives of urban poor women in Bangalore, especially in the area of health and hygiene, is delivering sessions on awareness and education about menstrual health, as well as providing direct access to affordable menstrual hygiene products like sanitary pads and re-usables by trained locally based female micro-entrepreneurs who can provide continued support.
Your support through this campaign will help us reach the women and girls in these 13,000 families making a direct impact on the right to education, better health and bring a positive change towards gender equality.