MGL Muskaan is an initiative designed by Mahanagar Gas Limited to bring smiles and happiness in the lives of slum residents
As quoted by Geoffrey West “Slums could be thought of as the development of a special organ, or they could be thought of as a tumor that’s grown, and in some ways is unhealthy and could ultimately lead to the city’s destruction. My own feeling is that slums are probably a bit of both.” Slums are often an offshoot of development characterized with substandard dwellings, extremely dirty, unpleasant, unwelcoming and inhumane. Slums grow for a combination of demographic, social, economic and political reasons. Some reasons include migration, poor urban planning, poverty, high unemployment, etc. They are often regarded as breeding ground for diseases and anti-social activities. The dwellers are often exposed to myriads abuses. Amidst all these humanity dwells and prevails.
Turbhe Slum Community is no different to other slums. It is the largest node of Navi Mumbai and has more than 70% of population as migrants. Sitting at the heart of Navi Mumbai and surrounded by high end residential localities and MIDC, the slum is supplier of labour force in this township. Most of the female folk of the slum work as domestic help in Navi Mumbai, while male members are mostly engaged as daily wage earners or labourers.
Project MGL Muskaan deploys multifaceted approach for development of various stakeholders. The centrifuge of the intervention is the community centre from where the interventions are rolled out. Mahanagar Gas Limited took up renovation of the community centre as the first step towards the project. Post renovation the following initiatives were rolled out:-
- Balwadis:- Toddlers of the slum were highly vulnerable to abuse. Since both the parents go out to work, they do not have the required support structure at home. The balwadi and study class is an initiative wherein the community members can get their toddlers and kids enrolled and engaged positively with no fear of abuses. Supplementary meal is also provided under the initiative.150 toddlers are being nurtured under the initiative.
- Remedial Classes / Tuition Classes:- Remedial classes and tuition classes are organized on regular basis for students from 1st standard till 8th standard. Since most of these students are first generation learners the remedial classes / tuition classes benefits the students in post school hours. The classes also provide a learning environment which many of the dwellings in the slum could not provide.
- Support Classes:- Special support classes are conducted for students in 9th and 10th standard to assist them in their studies. The support classes mainly focus on STEM subjects. MGL targets to benefit 300 children with the remedial classes and support classes. The education initiatives are designed to lay a strong foundation for the future generation.
- Linkage with School: – The project has facilitated linkage with nearby schools wherein admission of the children is facilitated. Further, regular follow up of progress of individual child is also made with the schools.
- Computer Classes and Personality Development:- Computer classes and personality development classes are organized for the youth with the objective of enhancing their employability. The personality development classes also include spoken English sessions for the youth. More than 100 youth are to be benefitted from the initiative.
- Health Camps:- Health camps are organized regularly for the community. Health and nutritional counselling sessions are also conducted regularly. MGL targets to reach out to nearly 1000 community residents through its health interventions.
- Women Empowerment:- With the objective of enhancing household level income, skills augmentation training is being provided to women folk in trades like tailoring and beautician. Inputs on necessary entrepreneurial skills and financial management is being provided under the project. The project targets to train nearly 150 women in these trades and also provide assistance in job placement and selfemployment.
- Retail management and office skills:- Mumbai provides myriad opportunities to skilled manpower. With the focus on tapping such opportunities for youth of the community, MGL has initiated training on retail management and office skills for youth of the community who have completed their basic education. Mahanagar Gas Limited is targeting to reach to nearly 150 youth in the trade and assist them in future placement.
- Linkages:- Another important aspect of the project is to facilitate linkages. The community center is acting as a knowledge center for the community. Information related to various schemes are being disseminated through the center. Many youth from the community were linked with ITIs and vocational training programs through the linkage initiative.
CASE STUDY POONAM KANNOJIA
Poonam Kannojia’s family migrated to Navi Mumbai in quest of job. The family settled in Turbhe Slums. Her father started daily wages earning in APMC Turbhe while her mother started working as domestic help in Vashi. Poonam and her sister had studied till 5th but could not continue their education in Navi Mumbai. ´Aarambh’, MGL’s partner for project Muskaan was active in Turbhe Slum region worked with the parents to get the girls admitted in local schools. Soon the girls were back to school. Mahanagar Gas Limited in partnerships with Aarambh launched project ‘MGL Muskaan’. Both Poonam and her sister started benefitting from support classes while her mother got trained in tailoring. She was also able to sell cloth bags in a mall in Vashi under the initiative. The support class was of great help for Poonam particularly for mathematics and science. Her confidence blossomed because of encouragement from the teachers in support class and she appeared and cleared her class tenth with flying colours. “MGL has given a new meaning to my life and my aspirations by shaping the course of my dreams” said Poonam Kannojia. Poonam is now pursuing her higher education and thanks project ‘MGL Muskaan’ for enhancing her self-belief. She is also benefitting from the computer classes and hopes to support her family soon.