Jhavare
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Shelter coordinator
Saturday 10th December 2011, Worli, Mumba.
There are 20 million people in Mumbai, but 14 million of them live in just 5% of the available space. 8 million people are without access to safe drinking water, but a bottle of champagne in my hotel cost more than the average annual wage. The contrast between the haves and have nots is fucking severe.
I failed to see how Wearelucky could have an impact in somewhere like Mumbai. The project seemed stupid and inadequate. How could GBP1000 make a difference? I'd actually made a decision to leave it alone for a while and just get on with my holiday, but then I accidentally read an article about a charity set up to provide food and shelter for street kids. Donating straight to charity isn't what Wearelucky is all about, but it was only a few hundreds yards from my hotel, so I thought I may as well take a look.
The Vatsalya Foundation is located in a surprisingly green estate, shielded from the noise and smog. It appeared peaceful and safe. I knocked on the door and introduced myself, but the madam was away, so Jhavre was assigned to show me round. The foundation looks after 51 kids, most of whom had lost their parents and ended up scavenging from the food markets and begging on the street. It's likely that they would have fallen into the underworld of gangs, drugs, prostitution and organised begging. Here they looked happy and healthy. Kids were running about everywhere, playing cricket and badminton and a small group gathered round to talk to us. I did my best to explain Wearelucky, but the language barrier meant that I soon gave up and settled on handing over the money and taking some photographs.
When I took out 80,000 rupees Jhavare seemed to panic because the Madam was meant to deal with that kind of thing. I didn’t want a receipt but there was such concern about providing me with one that I couldn’t refuse. The madam was in Coloba, watching a show with some of the kids and said that she would be back by 8pm. I didn't want to hang around for that long and so we agreed that I would email her and explain about Wearelucky. I don't think she could really get her head around it.
I left feeling incredibly happy, even if it was a bit of a detour from the original idea for Wearelucky. But ultimately it is what it is: good.