For the Children
Many kids start school in Dharavi; few of them finish. One of the community's greatest challenges is education. Though employment of children under age 14 in factories and at other hazardous work is illegal in India, child labor persists. Girls are frequently classified as helpers or domestic workers to get around the law. Children's labor and income can be crucial to a family's survival. Some factory owners convince parents that youth will gain skills and have better lives if they work away from home. But by the time the children finish their long commitments to these employers, they've fallen too far behind to resume school.
Groups working to improve the lives of Dharavi's youth include the following:
Founded in the slums of Mumbai in 1994, this nongovernmental organization (NGO) reaches out to more than 30,000 children in Dharavi each year. Programs offered in Dharavi and other poor communities include health screening, preschools, computer classes, teacher training, and literacy outreach. Pratham workers also negotiate with factory owners to release children from employment obligations.
Alliance of Volunteers for Service, Action, and Reform (AVSAR)
AVSAR is a nonprofit umbrella group for grassroots organizations working with underprivileged communities in Mumbai and throughout India. Since 2003, AVSAR has coordinated donors and volunteers from around the world to work in schools, hospitals, clinics, and wherever else they are needed.