Despite having a flourishing tourism industry, life in some part of India isn’t easy for everyone. There are a number of the population who live life on little or no income and live in Slums. The number of people is hard to measure as many of them do not want to be known or move around a lot to find food and money where possible. A large percentage of these people are children.
There are many dangers facing people living in the slums. As people from the slums travel throughout India looking for opportunity, they are denied basic rights from the Government such as health care. They are technically not classed and for this reason can be refused from hospitals and are offered little or no security from the police force.
Some police officers are widely known to locals as being corrupt. Allegedly, they often demand payment from people who are working or people living in the slums in return for protection or to avoid being framed for false charges. Locals have experienced police officers beating, sexually assaulting, harassing and even torturing street children living in the slums if they do not pay for protection.
Alcoholism is big problem of slum life. In India, alcohol is cheaper to buy than food and it takes away the pain of hunger. It is for this reason that many residents opt to buy alcohol instead. Thankfully, this problem is not rife in children; however they often face the knock on effect of alcohol such as abuse.
With poor sanitation and close living quarters, sickness and disease is rife in slum living. Infection spreads quickly and this can prove fatal in the case of the young and weak. The main illnesses to affect slum life include measles, conjunctivitis, colds and flu and headlice. Misinformed adults readily give children in the slums tobacco to chew which can lead to under lying health problems.
With a strong belief in India’s native medical practice of ayurveda, many traditional people of the slums will refuse to go to doctors or hospitals and instead will take a visit to the village ayurvedic doctor. These ayurvedic doctors believe using the five elements that make up the universe including the human body, earth, fire, water, air and ether, can cure illnesses. Unfortunately this does not compare to modern medicine and many slum people suffer and even die as a result of the care.
Children living in the slums have little or no education as they are not known to the Government. The local schools will not accept these children and they have to rely on outside charities and organisations to help school them. Any child from the slums who is accepted into school will often choose to work for money instead of attending. Our organisation Indian Women and Child Welfare Trust reward slum children’s school attendance with daily meals and points schemes where they can buy clothes, toys or stationary etc.