Monday, 23 April 2012

Reality Gives Events...Art class students explore Bandra through a camera lens

A child from a vistor enjoying the afternoon
Last week we invited you for the exhibition 'Dharavi: hum baccho ki nazar se - Dharavi: through kids' eyes' at False Ceiling Gallery in Bandra West from 21st to 24th April.It is still going on and everybody is welcome to marvel at the photos. But hurry up, we already sold a lot of photographs!

After the opening event on Saturday was a thorough success we invited the students from the art class on Sunday to see their photography in frames.  Together with the visitors of the exhibition, some street kids from Bandra and five professional photographers the 20 kids explored the area of Pali Hill like they did in Dharavi – capturing dogs, kids, shops, plants and themselves. Some of them have never been in Bandra before. “I liked the big camera of our teacher. And I even made some nice pictures of the fruit market. I really like Bandra.” Gulzar from Dharavi said happily.

After the exciting photo walks the kids got back to the gallery where they had some snacks and drinks followed by the highlight of the afternoon: a performance by the circus artist David Poznanter. His juggling show impressed the kids and a few of them also tried their luck with the glowing balls. “I’ve never seen such a juggling – he even did it with five balls! That was so cool!” Laxmi, a girl who comes to the Dharavi Community Center of Reality Gives everyday said amazed. After this he made some balloons creatures for the students: hearts, motorbikes, elephants and dogs. Even the older kids wanted to take the funny balloons home. An afternoon they won’t forget so fast.

Mujassum, Laxmi and Viral (from the left) in front of the art gallery
Balloon Snail

David, a circus artist makes balloon creatures for kids

Juggling Show with shiny balls - the kids couldn't take their eyes of the performance!

After David's show the kids also tried their lucks with the balls

Student takes a picture of Summer

Vivek, a professional photographer shows the kids how to use his  camera

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Invitation...Dharavi through kids' eyes

We are super excited to invite all our friends, fans and supporters to the exhibition 'Dharavi: hum baccho ki nazar se - Dharavi: through kids' eyes' at False Ceiling Gallery in Bandra West from 21st to 24th April.

Since November 2011 Himanshu from Bombay Underground has been teaching the kids who visit out Community Center regularly in drawing, painting and photography. You can read more about Bombay Underground and the art class here. The results were so stunning that we displayed them for sale on our Dharavi tour for all our customers. No group passed without one person buying a postcard set, notebook or a print out. 

From the profits and additional donations we already bought two new cameras, three more will follow. But we need more funding to maintain the existence of the art class in the next months. 38 new kids joined the new art class which began on Saturday, the 14th April. That means a lot of art supplies and cameras are required.

So we thought to accomplish more funding and to present the photographs to the public we will do an exhibition in the new art gallery False Ceiling in Pali Naka, Bandra. We will display 60 photographs and paintings made by the kids in Dharavi and from other art projects of Himanshu with underprivileged kids in Mumbai. 

So if you live in Mumbai and you will be in town this weekend, here are 10 good reasons why you shouldn't miss this:

1. Your living room would look so much better with a nice framed photograph taken in Dharavi - for us one of the most beautiful areas in Mumbai!
2. For Rs 1000 everybody can afford the art pieces.
3. If your walls are already covered with art you should either clear out the old fashioned stuff you have hanging there or you can also buy notebooks, postcards or a shirt of Reality Gives. We have something for everyone!
4. The profits of the sale go towards the art class - we need art supplies, cameras and we have to finance the teaching.
5. Going to an art exhibition has so much more style then your usual weekend activities like washing clothes, party till 1.30am or getting a hair cut. Do something intellectual and good, you won't regret it.
6. Free food and drinks!
7. At False Ceiling you can cool down from the current heat.
8. It's in Pali Hill so very attractive located to go shopping and dining afterwards or before.
9. We know how much you all love to meet Summer, Chris and me (Adina) to talk and laugh with us. We try to be there all the time!
10. If the first nine stunning reasons didn't convince you a 10th won't do it as well!

Read here about the event, program and the art class. Please also invite your friends and share the event on your Facebook wall.

The exhibition will be open everyday from 11am to 11pm from the 21st to the 24th April. False Ceiling Gallery is in Pali Hill, close to Pali Village Cafe and next to Whity Cleaners. There will be a banner so that you can't miss it.

Reality Tours and Travel...the customer's view

Some weeks ago we blogged about the students for the Berkeley Carroll School in New York who came to India to build a Community Center in a Maharashtrian village, read here.

Claudia, one of the students just sent us her feedback on the slum tour they did before they went to the village: 

"My experience with Reality Tours was amazing and eye-opening. When I realized that we’d be taking a tour of a slum I became nervous and anxious, I had never been to a place similar to Dharavi. I was skeptical about taking a tour through someone else’s home. I hadn’t known how much Reality Tours/Reality Gives gives back to the Dharavi community through their kindergarten and community center. When walking around Dharavi with our tour guide, we were greeted warmly by everyone we encountered. I was surprised by the positive feeling that I got from the community, and I gained so much respect for the people of Dharavi. Our tour guide was great too, he knew so much about the various industries in Dharavi. Also, he had personal connections with the people, which made our tour much more special. It was an amazing opportunity to be able to walk the slums with someone who was so knowledgeable about the community. I really enjoyed my experience with Reality Tours, and I would encourage anyone who is given the opportunity to take it." 

Thanks Claudia for your words. We wish you and your friends all the best for the future. We had an amazing time with you and we hope you will visit us again. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Reality Gives Supporters' Stories....Pat & Joyce

Patrick and Joyce Zickler from US are a nice slightly older couple with a big heart. When Pat came to Mumbai in 2009 for a conference he did his first Dharavi tour with Reality Tours and Travel and fortunately his first guide was Krishna. And since we all know that everybody falls in love with Krishna's communicative heartily way of doing the tour also Pat couldn't resist. 

So Pat came back - in 2010 he visited Mumbai with his wife Joyce and they did another tour, this time with Ganesh, one of our long-established tour guides. And this time Pat and Joyce didn't leave with just an filled out feedback form. Pat decided to donate together with his 26 and 22 years old daughters Deborah and Emily a library for the community Center as a gift for Joyce. 2011 Joyce and Pat did the same with the Bombay Underground art class project for their daughters who are art and acting students.

This Year in April they visited us again to see the progress of the art class and Community Center. Fortunately we were planning our first photo exhibit of the art class during this time. Pat and Joyce came to meet the kids and see the photographs. A lot of curious Dharavi kids came in and Pat gave them a short camera workshop. They all pledged to join the next batch of Himanshu's art workshop to learn more about photography. A great day with a lot of fun for all of us!

We sincerely thank Pat and Joyce for all their support and look forward for for more years of coming together to create a change in our community.

Patrick and Joyce are not the only keen supporters of Reality Gives. A lot of people mail us almost every day to donate computers, books, stationary and art supplies, music instruments etc. And of course there are monetary donations for which we are also more than thankful. We want to tell their stories in this blog. More is following soon.

Would you also like to get involved? Have a look here: or get in contact with us:

Pat and Joyce during the preparation of the Dharavi photo exhibition in March 2012. 

Pat explains his camera to the kids who visited the exhibit - they all want to join the art class soon.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Letter from the Founder Chris Way... Our new initiative!

Dear Friends,
Reality Gives, since it was created in August 2009, has focused on providing quality education to the people of Dharavi. We have been able to educate children through our kindergarten, Youth Empowerment Program and English Language Support programs. All of which has been made possible by the revenue generated through our sister organisation Reality Tours and Travel.
However, we continually hear time and time again that our customers are inspired by the tours and wish to do more for the incredible people of Dharavi. Many individuals ask if they can donate additional funds to our efforts and increase the work we do.
As of 2012 we are starting a new initiative to build connections to other NGOs in the Dharavi community who can benefit from your support. While not run by us, we have strong ties to each of these projects either as beneficiaries or co-creators of the programs; we only endorse projects which have the potential to grow and we monitor to make sure that the projects achieve their goals. We also provide non-financial support, using our staff's expertise and knowledge of Dharavi.
In this blog we will keep you up to date about all our projects, we will introduce you to beneficiaries and staff, we will give our customers and supporters the chance to public their thoughts and we will of course also keep you informed about changes of Reality Tours and Travel.
We hope you will learn more about the work we do and join us in creating change in our communities!

Best wishes,
Chris Way
Founder of Reality Group

Global Giving Challenge...make change happen!

This monday we open a new chapter in the Reality Gives history. We have been accepted by GlobalGiving UK to participate in its Gateway Challenge, a fundraising opportunity for nonprofit organizations in which we get the chance to compete for bonus funding prizes.

To pass the Challenge, we must raise £2,000 from 50 donors for one specific project between the 2nd April and the 2nd May. If we meet this target, we’ll get a permanent spot on GlobalGiving UK’s fundraising website, where we have the opportunity to benefit from corporate relationships, exposure to a new donor network, and access to dozens of online fundraising, support and training tools. In addition, we could earn up to £2,000 in bonus prizes if we raise the most money and get the highest number of donors!

For this challenge we chose the Yuwa Girls Football Program because this is one of our first projects which won't be directly funded by Reality Tours and Travel. So we need your support to make this project happen! Visit our Global Giving project page and please consider a donation.

We are aiming not only to pass the Challenge, but to raise a total of £8,000. This will enable us to provide football kit, coaching and transport to tournaments for 70kids for one year. To find our more about the Yuwa Girls Football project read 

How can you help? Donate, spread the word or become a Reality Gives Ambassador to start a fundraiser in your town - find out more here.

Get involved...become a Reality Gives Ambassador!

You would like to get involved with us but you have no money to donate? You like our projects and would like to spread the word about them? And above all you ♥ Dharavi as much as we do? Then you are a perfect candidate to become a Reality Gives ambassador.

What do I do as a Reality Gives Ambassador?

You simply organize an event to raise funds for a specific project of Reality Gives. This can be a football tournament to support the Yuwa Girls Football Program or an exhibition of the photographs made in the art class of Bombay Underground in our Community Center. Or you can also just ask your wedding guests to donate to a project of your choice on your name. Or you create a challenge: run a marathon, do a trek or travel through a country and ask your friends and family to help you raise your fundraising challenge amount which will support our cause. Of course you can do it in a team or also alone. There are a lot of possibilities and we find the one which suits you best.

How do I do this?

With our help of course. We will provide you with an extensive media kit including T-shirt-print design, check-lists, information sheets, gifts for guests etc. This of course depends on the event and project the ambassador likes to support. We will stay in contact with you during the whole project  - we mail you, we chat with you and we call you. Step by step we create a great event together so that your visitors can't say no to you. 

What will I get from this?

There are different incentives in levels for every project. So your reward depends on the amount you raise. If you for example raise £ 100 we will mention you with a photo on Facebook. If you raise £ 500 we will mention you on Facebook, Twitter and our Blog and tell your whole story with photos. If you raise £1000 you will become a official sponsor of the project with mention on website, blog, social media and newsletter. Also you and your team will be mentioned on a special sign in our Reception Center in Dharavi, accessible for all our beneficiaries and the customers of Reality Tours and Travel. Every ambassador or team of ambassadors becomes a certificate with a Thank-you of the beneficiaries and our 'I love Dharavi' shirts. But this all depends on the event and project.

     How can I start?

    Our first project we would like to win ambassadors for is the Yuwa Girls Footbal Program. We suggest two options an ambassador can chose from: 

  • HOST A FUNDRAISING EVENT AT HOME! You are a sports obsessed person? You and your friends don't miss one match of cricket, soccer or football? Then make your hobby to a fundraiser! Invite your friends to watch a match with you and ask them to "bet" on their favorite teamdonate the amount raised. We will provide you with a media kit to inform your guests about the project and us and of course help you also to organize the event. If you are interested, send a mail to  
  • HOST A TEAMSPORT MATCH TO FUNDRAISE! If you join a team of passionate soccer or any other team sport players this option suits you best. Host a match between two teams, invite friends, family, fans and the public, ask them at the entry to bet on their favorite team. The match becomes a double challenge: win the match and win the fundraising challenge. The winner becomes an official sponsor team of our girls team, incentives included. Also here we provide a media kit and help throughout the whole process. If you are interested, send a mail to . 
If these options don't suit you or you are not interested in sports but art, education or environment and would like to support a project in these fields, send also a mail to Together we find a way to make you an ambassador for us. 

Become a Reality Gives ambassador now and help us create a change in our community!

Connection Project...Yuwa Girls Football Program

Reality Gives and Yuwa will start a girls football for empowerment program in Dharavi by end of April. YUWA is an organisation with roots in the state of Jharkhand, in North Central India, a region infamous for child marriage, human trafficking and lack of opportunities for girls. Yuwa started its first football club in February 2009 for the young girls in the area, providing an escape from the day-to-day grind of their lives. Through football, Yuwa has seen incredible success: They have gotten girls back into school, are combating child marriage and reducing human trafficking. It has since expanded to 250 girls covering 15 villages. You can learn more at or at

Reality Gives is excited to see this powerful program come to Dharavi. We will start the project by end of April on a ground close to the Maharashtra Nature Park in Sion, inside Dharavi. This is a little more far away from our community where we run the Community Center and Kindergarten which means it will also open a whole new group of residents to us. 

The coaches will come with Franz, the founder of Yuwa from Jharkhand with a lot of experience in girls football coaching and enthusiasm to also train girls in Dharavi. 

We target 70 girls by end of the first year. In Dharavi many girls spend most of their time with housework, raising up siblings or they get pregnant too early which means the cycle continues. We would like to see girls playing football with us who are neglected from their families and society, who are drop-outs  from school or be aimed at getting married-off early.

Since it is the first project which is not directly funded by Reality Tours and Travel we chose this project to be our candidate for the Global Giving Challenge in April, read more here.

We aim to raise £ 8000 to provide football kit, coaching and transport to tournaments to 70 girls in Dharavi. With your help we can make this project happen. Please consider a donation on Global Giving or become a Reality Gives amabassador to spread the word about this project, read more here.

Reality Tours and Travel News...New York Students build Community Center in Indian village

World Leadership school, the Berkeley Carroll High School in New York and Reality Tours and Travel realized a great project in Chinchoti, the village we usually visit on our village tour with Krishna. 

On Sunday, the 18th March 14 students, two teachers and two facilitators including our founder Krishna started a great one week experience none of the participants will forget so fast. Their Mission: building a community center in Chinchoti. How to do that? By raising $3.500 in advance and using this money to mobilise resources and materials and building a new house with the help of the village residents. 

Village Residents prepare the site 
for the arrival of the
Krishna went to the village one week in advance to prepare the home stays and construction site with the village residents. He was amazed by their collaboration for this project - 200 out of 1000 residents came to help on the site: unroof and demolish the old building on the spot and cleaning up the place. The people were very excited to meet their visitors from far away.

On their first day in Mumbai they visited a few sights like Gandhi's residence, Mani Bhavan and Victoria Terminus. The girls also bought saris for themselves and explored the markets of south Mumbai. 

On their second day they came to Dharavi, doing a slum tour in the morning and joined the Reality Gives activities  afterwards. Seven students taught our Youth Empowerment Program students how to write a bill in Excel, the other seven students played with the kids in the Kindergarten

"The diversity among the pairing of students from two very different nations was incredibly educational and one of the most inspiring and encouraging moments of the trip so far." 
(Quote from the High School Blog)

On the third day they finally went to Chinchoti by ferry, bus and rickshaw. Upon arrival, the guests were greeted with a parade and celebrations, as the entire community came out to welcome them. For the rest of the week they stayed with local families, shared their food and house facilities. It was a tough challenge for the NY students since the food was spicy and the sleeping mats hard and the kids were just not used to it. But the overwhelming hospitality of the local people made this forgotten very fast. 

During the week they build the new community center in a great team work with the village people. They helped mostly with carrying and fetching concrete, laying bricks, and creating piles and piles of bricks wherever they were needed! In between they were sitting with their families and trying to conquer the language barrier by playing games, drinking chai and dancing together. In the morning the students were hiking to the hills and temples around to do early morning Yoga and meditating. 
The New York Students on the construction site

Intercultural Teamwork
One highlight was the new years ceremony on thursday evening with a lot of dancing, sweets and gifts. Also the visit to another village where the bricks are made impressed the students a lot. And the girls of the group joined a Bollywood dancing class given by the village girls.

"We'll definitely miss our home stay families, village and time together in India!"
(Quote from the High School Blog)
The Community Center before it got a roof
Eventually the community center was build up and the students were exhausted but happy. On Monday, eight days after their arrival they traveled back to US with bruises, sun burns and some pain in the neck but above all with a big smile on their face!

We want to thank all the students and teachers and of course our partner from World leadership schools who made this project possible. We hope to make a lot more visits like this happens in future.