Slumdog Millionaire has put the slums of India on the world map, albiet in an artistic way. Despite the obvious, it’s still hard to believe that some people don’t have a concrete roof over their heads, that they live in make-shift shacks even in this age and time. Apparently, India homes 17% of all slum-dwellers in the world, a figure which translates to about 170 million people! The odds are just slightly tilted in our favor.
If you have ever witnessed the poverty on India’s streets (in person or through CNN or BBC), I am sure you have wondered, even for a moment, if there was a way you could help. This is your chance.
A few of us have started an initiative with Habitat for Humanity to build houses in a slum area in Devanahalli, on the outskirts of Bangalore, India. The 2 weeks we spend on site will involve an intensive 10 day build, with an aim of constructing 8 double-storeyed houses, sheltering 16 families or approximately 96 individuals. A house might sound trivial, but to some child and some parent, it will be their first real home.
Aasha is the Hindi word for hope, and The Aasha Build is our chance to make a difference in our world.
Besides the issues of homelessness and poverty, the village of Devanahalli and its neighbours are also breeding grounds for microfinance and self-help groups. Without the technicalities of these titles and the formal operations they entail, these villages have sustained themselves for years by self-help practices. Unlike urban India, families in these villages are mostly headed by women, who support each other as ‘human collateral’ for microfinance institutions and undertake entrepreneurial ventures.
Although we are recruiting only 20 volunteers to go for the build, we are trying to engage the entire online community to create awareness about homelessness, microfinance and self-help groups, and to garner support. If you would like to contribute to our initiative, here is how you can help.
“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” - Anne Frank