Megapolis & Pehchan. Mumbai, India
In Mumbai, associations working on the ground with homeless people estimate that they are more than 300,000 living on the streets. Yet they are the invisible, the data collection is sparse, and the issue not faced.
To answer that, organizations such as Megapolis and Pehchan are empowering the homeless community by collecting data about them and giving them visibility and by helping them to learn about their rights and fight for them.
Megapolis has collaborated with Studio X, part of Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the grassroots non-profit organization Pehchan to set up an exhibition aiming to change the perspective about homeless people and helping understand their living spaces and routine.
After mapping the informal settlements and the network of these citizens, and interviewing them, the exhibition was set up to give viewers an intimate understanding of the lives of Mumbai’s homeless people.
The exposition used cloth fabrics, different textures and materials to represent how homeless use their space, what is their bed and their roof made of, and eventually the components of their everyday life.
Did you know?
It is important to dispel some of the misconceptions about homelessness in India. Many people think homeless are just beggars or jobless people who come to the city from the rural areas. However, homeless people are most of the time the working poor of the city that just can´t afford a house: taxi drivers, local vendors, chai sellers, etc. They are part of the informal economy, they provide us with services and we interact with them on a daily basis. Most of them are families that have lived for decades on the streets without any shelter.
Debunking the myths and misconceptions about homelessness is crucial to understand their situation and give them back their identity as full citizens.
Sustainability and Replicability
The Mumbai based non-profit organization Pehchan works to recognize and strengthen the identity of the homeless in society by providing them in the first place with basic identity documents. This program could be replicated in other Indian cities, with the collaboration of organizations working to improve the life of the homelessness and with the exchange of good practices.
To tackle an issue, it is important first to deeply understand it to be able to fight it. It is essential to put names, faces and stories to the chronic and ever-increasing problem of homelessness, to be able to start dealing with it.