In Shivaji Nagar, the lack of basic services makes life difficult. With life already a daily struggle, the lack of adequate street-lighting makes it unsafe; irregular garbage collection makes it unhygienic and a shortage of water makes it impossible to survive.
Apnalaya has been nurturing many young leaders in Shivaji Nagar – empowering them to change these problems for the better.
When Rehan, a third-year B.Com student used to walk in his neighbourhood in Shanti Nagar area after sunset, he would see drug addicts loitering around, girls being harassed and people being afraid to venture on the road as the streetlights did not work.
“If you walk on these roads at night, you’ll see one street-light working , another one working after 200 metres. People and children would feel insecure and unsafe,” said Rehan.
Rehan, on completion of the Citizenship training by Apnalaya, filed a petition with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to restore the streetlights in his area. He did did through a signature campaign with his neighbours from the community.
It took five months for the MCGM to repair the street-lights, as the road was being paved in the area. Now, few street-lights are functioning but a lot more needs to be done. With 4 out of 10 lights in working order, Rehan isn’t giving up, and will be filing more petitions to get this work completed!
“When I first submitted the petition after our training, I didn’t think there would be any action, but eventually it happened and I was elated! I will submit another one for all the streetlights in our area to be illuminated,” says Rehan.
Rehan is currently a mentor for Apnalaya’s Education, Empowerment and Employability programme (E3) and has been associated with Apnalaya for more than 10 years. He is one of the many youth of Shivaji Nagar who have realised that they have the ‘agency’ to make a difference in the community.
Nasreen, a third year Sociology major, has been associated with Apnalaya for the past two years. As a mentor of Khula Aasmaan Kabaddi programme, she has undergone the Life skills training and Citizenship training. Recently, at the training on Urban Governance, she came to know about the MCGM portal and online complaint system, where one can report deficient municipal services.
Nasreen lives in Rafi Nagar, a locality that is littered with garbage. Last month, she realised that the garbage collection truck had not come for several days to her locality. “I was very nervous when I called, but the reaction was immediate, the garbage truck came the very next day and collected the trash and litter of the area,” she said. This has strengthened her resolve in seeing that her locality is clean. She has now filed a complaint regarding the reconstruction of a dilapidated community toilet in her area.
It is heartening to see youth along with adults taking charge to ensure basic services are provided in their locality – to ease the struggle of daily life and provide a sense of security to their families and communities.