Rich and poor, old and new. It’s home to some of the most expensive homes in the world, and one of the world’s largest slums. Crumbling colonial buildings sit in the shadows of skyscrapers still being built. Tiny family businesses share the same addresses as some of the world’s largest corporations.
It’s also a city in a state of flux. Construction is everywhere as Mumbai attempts to transform itself into a global city to rival London, New York, Los Angeles or Tokyo. As a result, it feels like a city still being built, an unfinished project that is awaiting polish.
Unfortunately, it’s evident that this relentless growth has a human cost. As I walked around Worli, a district in the west of Mumbai, I stood in the shadow of towering office blocks, home to more major companies. Exactly the kind of thing you see in cities like New York. But clustered around the base of these buildings were miniature slums, grabbing whatever space they could in this jampacked city. Proof that extreme poverty exists everywhere in Mumbai, not just contained in large slum communities like Dharavi.
I predicted in my first post that I would see the best and worst of India while I was here, and it turns out I was spot on. The things I’ve seen during my visit, both wonderful and appalling, will stay with me for a long time. The conditions in the slum communities like Chamunda Nagar and Dharavi infuriate me. The commitment of Magic Bus’ volunteers inspires me. The happiness and enthusiasm of the children in our sessions fills me with hope and joy.
I’m so glad I came to Mumbai, and I can’t give thanks enough to everyone at a Magic Bus India who have made me feel so welcome during my stay. Special thanks in particular have to go to Rupesh and Aarti, who took me to see our sessions, the communities we work in, and gave me all the help and support I could have asked for during my stay.
So that’s it! I’m now off the explore India’s Golden Triangle before heading back home to the UK. I really hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! But before I sign off, I do have one last request. Part of the reason for this blog was a way to record my experiences for my own sake, but to also give an opportunity for Magic Bus supporters in the UK, and the West in general, to get to see our work, up close, through a familiar lens: that of a 20-something Brit who had never been to a developing country before. None of the truly amazing work Magic Bus is doing to combat the appalling poverty I’ve described throughout this blog would be possible without your support. So, I ask that if you’ve enjoyed my blog, please make a donation, so that the children of Chamunda Nagar, Dharavi and all over India can escape poverty for good.