I had spent my childhood and youth in Mumbai, the largest city of India and second most populous city of the world.
Mumbai is the wealthiest city of India. It also has the largest number of billionaires and millionaires amongst all cities of India.
Yet, the basic amenity of a “safe and secure” shelter is out of reach of a majority of people
Statistics show that only 53% of households in India are in good condition. 40% of households have just one room. The average size of the room is only 200 sq. ft and at least five people have to share the only room.
I belonged to the 40% of the households. My large family of seven people lived in a tiny room in a dilapidated “CHAWL” in Mumbai
The wiki describes “Chawls” as a quintessentially Mumbai phenomenon of multi-storied terrible quality tenements, typically a bit higher quality than slums. 80 per cent of chawls have only one room.
My house had walls of rusted iron metal sheets and tiled roofs. The walls had holes in them, through which rodents, snakes and other creatures entered the house. The roof leaked every year in the rains. Many times, we would have no option, but to sleep under an umbrella at night.
The house had an enclosure of rags and plastic for a bathroom. There was no roof. There was always the fear of "peeping Toms" trying to peep into the bathroom.
The chawl had one common water tap and a toilet. We had to share these basic amenities with at least 6 other families.
There was very little privacy in the house. Hardly any relatives visited our house. I was always embarrassed to invite friends over.
Living in an unsafe house, for years was my nightmare.
As a child, I always had a dream of living in a house which had walls and a toilet
My dream became my life goal, once I entered college. My goal was to own a house. All my earnings were saved for buying my house. After working for a decade, I was able to purchase my house
Today, I feel very safe and secure in my house. I am able to live peacefully and have my privacy.
When I look back, the hard work and toil of decades was worth it.
Message to my sisters
“Take Charge” of your safety and security. You don’t need to depend on others.
Let’s all have a common purpose – safety and security for all our sisters across the globe
It is often said that
“When women come together for a common purpose, they become a force to reckon with”