Thursday, 25 October 2012

Reality Gives Connection Projects...CORP Children with Disabilities Program #1

Reality Gives is launching two new Connection Projects. Besides an Acupuncture Clinic in Dharavi we will also support a Day Care Centre for Disabled children in Dharavi which is run by the community-based NGO CORP.

In Dharavi, children born with a physical disability are at risk for infanticide or abandonment. Families struggle to find the time and the resources to meet these children's needs. CORP’s programme for the physically challenged was initiated 20 years ago with the mission of helping these children to achieve self sufficiency and reduce the burden on their families. CORP's does this through education, health and empowerment activities.

We would like to introduce this and the next week to some of the beneficiaries of CORP so you get an idea how big the impact of this program is. If you would like to support the Day Care Centre for Disabled children in Dharavi by CORP, please find out how you could do that here


My name is Naznin! I have a brother and sister and my father is a vendor.
I come to CORP’s centre since 8 years ago because of my physical disability that did not allow me to walk. With CORP's help I managed to receive surgery at Somaiya Hospital and now I can walk with the help of crutches. Today I go to a Special School and I am in Std. 6th!


Namaste! I am Meghana and I was born on the 13th of may 2000, I have 1 brother and 2 sisters that go to school.  My mother takes care of the house while my father is a cleaner but, due to unhygienic nature of the work, he got addicted to  alcohol. Despite counseling, my father still is unable to quit but I pray to God to help my father stop drinking alcohol for good.  My father’s earnings are very meagre to cope with the family expenses. 
I go to Lions Club Special School for Hearing Impaired. I am in Std. 4th  and, as I am fond of dancing, I also take part in various activities. Meeting CORP has supported me through difficult times giving me the motivation I needed to achieve my dreams.


I am Shivam Sangbandharum and I was born on January 30th , 2006. I am in Senior Kindergarten: I like studying and playing games.  I have a sister.
My father used to be a janitor but due to the difficult conditions of his job he started drinking alcohol. Because of this situation he had to leave his job and find a new one which is on contract basis and is better for his health. Now, my father does checking of luggage at toll junction but the salary is still too low to meet the family needs, especially because my mother is a housewife.
I have a handicap on my right hand side and I had to be treated both for my leg and hand at Haj Ali Hospital, in order to be completely self sufficient I will undergo further treatment but now I have the motivation to continue my studies because, thank to a pair of new special shoes provided by CORP I can walk properly and I can lead a better life.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Reality Tours and Travel New Guides...Subhash and Sagar

Subhash Naidu

Subhash has grown up and still lives with his family in Dharavi on 90 feet Road, not far from our Reception Centre. He says that sometimes his friends wonder why he shows foreigners around in their neighborhood but he just ignores them and dreams of his future. 

Because Subhash uses the job as a guide to earn money for his motor racing career. He can join a professional team in Chennai but for that he has to earn money to pay the membership. Apart from partly legal motor races he also loves to dance. He is part of the very famous Hip-Hop and Breakdance group "The Slumgods" and is more than proud of that.

He found out about the job through his sister who was a student of the Youth Empowerment Program last year which is funded by the tours. He likes the job because he doesn't sit around in an office and get bored all day long!

Sagar Vatapu

Sagar was born in Andra Pradesh but moved with his family to Mumbai when he was in the third grade. He likes Mumbai much better he says but that's because his friends are here.

He currently studies his Bachelor of Commerce but his dream is to become a sound engineer in the future. Why? Because he is a DJ by passion. Like his friend Subhash he is a member of "The Slumgods" and puts on dubstep, Hip-Hop and Tribal. He loves also to just produce beats, to breakdance and hang around with his friends from the Slumgods.

Sagar lives with his parents and two brothers in Santa Cruz East.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Reality Gives Volunteer reports...A Saturday with FMCH in Dharavi!

Tara is an Expat living in Mumbai. She loves our Dharavi Health and Nutrition Project and volunteered to write a short report about her experience while attending the last session on 6th October 2012. She will also create a cook book together with Nutritionists of FMCH. Read here about her Day in Dharavi:

FMCH runs a weekly clinics at the Reality Gives' community centre in Dharavi on Saturday afternoons. On alternate Saturdays a cooking demonstration is held or a talk about issues the participants would like to discuss. 

This Saturday was cooking time! The knowledgeable and energetic Sneha Rout, a FMCH nutritionist, led last Saturday's cooking demonstration. Four mothers with their numerous children gathered round to listen and learn about the recipes Sneha was preparing with the help of Nanda Goregaokar, a part-time FMCH cook. Nazia and Sangeeta, Library and Youth Empowerment Program teachers with Reality Gives helped facilitate the clinic, providing water, cleaning cooking utensils and managing the crowd of children who had gathered. They both are from Dharavi as well and know the attending women and children very well. Most of them participated in other projects of Reality Gives before.

This week's nutritious menu included beetroot milkshake, ragi upma and coconut, sesame and peanut ladoos.  

Whilst Sneha chopped and prepared the food, she engaged with each mother, explaining to them the nutritional quality of the ingredients, such as beetroot and sesame seed, and made the demonstration an interactive and fun event. As the mothers are illiterate, Sneha encouraged them to repeat back to her the recipes both whilst the food was being prepared and also afterwards so to help the mothers remember the recipes.

Once the full meal was complete, Sneha and Nanda shared the milkshake, upma and ladoos amongst the children and mother. Everyone agreed the food was delicious!

Afterwards the nutritionists and teachers came together with the attending mothers to discuss the health and nutrition status of their children and how they can improve it or how it already got improved since the program started. The overall opinion is that till now mostly the cooking skills and nutrition knowledge of the mothers increased. For a review of the health status of the kids it needs more time and a regular attendance.

Read more about the FMCH program in Dharavi on our website.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Reality Gives Heroes....Meet Asim!

Although, true to his character, he shies away from his job titleS, Asim is the co-director of the Ashayen Community Centre, Manager of the Reality Tours and Travel Reception Centre, Tour Guide Manager  and tour guide himself but everyone who comes into contact with him immediately realises he’s even so much more than that. He’s an inspiration, a mentor, and a truly great chap.

Jonny, a volunteer of Reality Gives in 2011 interviewed him about his job, his ambitions and the kids of Dharavi.  Since Asim has a lot to do, there is also a lot to read about him:

When I mentioned to Asim that I’d like to interview him, he immediately invited me to his house and said that we could talk over lunch- he explained it would have to be on a Sunday though as he works every other day.

It’s not until we’re sipping tea, after four courses of delightful food cooked by Asim’s mother, that we begin to discuss what he thinks of Reality Gives. I feel almost guilty disturbing the sleepy post-food haze, but his eyes light up when I ask him to tell me about his ambitions, ‘More community centres [like the one on Dhravi] is what we need. That way, we can empower more kids. It’s simple; we can use the same programs and the same techniques, only in different locations. There are thousands of youngsters in Mumbai who would benefit from what we do, millions even.’ He pauses briefly as a cat appears and settles down under the chair he’s sat in. Asim’s hand reaches down and the cat automatically nestles its head into his palm before he continues, ‘The thing is, these kids don’t all have the opportunity to be able to do what they want to do. We help them by providing them with a chance. Also, some of them aren’t natural learners and the approach we take appeals to them a lot more than the approach of Government schools.’

Asim during a Bicycle tour.
He conducts all tours of Reality Tours and Travel!
As he speaks you can feel the belief in his work runs right through him. Asim’s famous for his commitment to his tasks and Krishna, co- founder of the Reality Group, once told me how Asim had visited the home of a student who was having some issues and spoke to her parents. It turns out Asim also took the learning material from each of the classes that she had missed and sat for hours explaining each point to her one on one. A week later the student returned to classes and, in June 2011, completed the course. This represented a huge achievement for the student, ‘Asim often goes beyond the call of duty’ Krishhna explained. ‘But he’s not doing it to impress or for overtime; he just does it!’

Krishna also mentioned how much Asim has developed professionally, something that I ask Asim about as I start my second cup of tea. ‘Oh, I’ve changed a lot. When I first started I used to worry about my job a lot. But Reality Gives has helped me to become more organised, more professional and also provided me with a syllabus that I follow every day in class. It’s well structured and the students really like it, and it helps me because I can concentrate on the students rather than worrying about planning lessons.’

Asim visits the new Jazz Dance Class.
He uses every free minute to come to the Community Centre!
By end of 2011 Asim’s trainee Shabana who was a Youth Empowerment Student herself one year before took over the computer classes because Asim had many other tasks to fulfil. It was hard for Asim to let go: ‘I know my days in the classroom are numbered. As much as I will miss teaching hands-on every day, I totally agree that I should be training other teachers. I’ve been in their position and I know what they’re feeling and this way we can help a lot more students. I really want to take the Youth Empowerment Program to as many places as possible; in Mumbai, in Maharastra, in India… and then who knows? But for this to be possible we must have good teachers, and lots of them.’

Asim also manages the Reality Tours and Travel Reception Centre and sees huge synergies in the performance of the two different organisations. I ask him how he manages to do so much work and what he feels about having two jobs. ‘It’s simple really’ he tells me, ignoring the question about his workload, ‘If the tour company continues to do well, then Reality Gives will be able to expand and help more people’.

‘Simple’ is a word Asim uses often, and as he walks with me to get a rickshaw, ducking under his neighbour’s washing, dodging the kids playing cricket, and taking it all in his stride, I understand how ‘simple’ it all is.

To find out more about the Community Centre, the Youth Empowerment Program and all other projects of Reality Gives, please visit .