This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Drishti Agarwal. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Cheated By Employers, Not Paid On Time: What Life Is Like For The Homeless In Delhi

More from Drishti Agarwal

By Drishti Agarwal:

Rampal began his journey from Katwa in Bengal. He migrated to Jammu initially and finally landed up in Delhi. He migrated 8 years ago in search of better work opportunities and living conditions. Since his move to the capital city, he has been living in the shelters run by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board. Presently, he is living in a shelter in Kashmere Gate.

A 15-year-old Rampal was full of hopes and aspirations. He wanted to earn money for his family by working hard. Like any other young kid, he had a group of friends in the village. He was the first one to move out in search of work as he was the eldest in the family. Rampal told me, “I only studied till class 5 and soon started earning. My brothers completed their studies and now have permanent jobs back in the village. They have families and are living happily.”

In 2002, Rampal was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Since he did not have any savings, his parents and his brothers had to take care of him. Despite him being very close to his family, the relations eventually began to sour. Unable to come to terms with his mother’s distress of providing for his medicines, Rampal left his home and came to Delhi. He was treated for TB but his body could not be like before. He used to make ends meet by carrying materials on his heads, which were to be loaded on trucks. This made matters even worse for his frail body. This his how the journey of an unemployed, uneducated and a homeless man began.

After spending some nights on the streets, Rampal was soon rescued by the shelter board and asked to stay at one of the shelters. During this time, he did not lose hope and continued working as a seasonal worker. He often found some work in hotels and marriages. Everything would have gone well for Rampal if he had not been cheated by many of his employers. “I was due Rs 28000 at one place, but the boss asked me to keep working. When I asked for the wages, he refused,” he explained. It was not the only time that he wasn’t paid his salary. There have been many instances when the employers have made him work and not paid him. He has often lost ₹2,000, ₹3,000 and even ₹5000.

To be able to find work and earn a living is just one of the many challenges. The homeless living in the shelter do not have any safe place to keep their savings. Having migrated without any identity cards, they are unable to open a bank account. They often get seasonal work at  parties. In such cases, they work for 24 hours and receive a meagre amount. Anything between ₹400-450. The workers are forced to spend even this meagre amount as there is no guarantee that this money will remain safe. As Rampal informs, there are many in the shelter who believe in working and earning money, while there are some, who simply steal other people’s earnings at knife point. Assaults are quite frequent near the shelter. He remembers an incident in which he had asked a shopkeeper, a friend of his to keep ₹2,500. When he went back to ask for his money, he was refused and told that he had already collected the money.

After such tragic incidents, Rampal seems quite disillusioned. He doesn’t know what the future has in store for him. He admits that village life is better but people move to cities as wages are very low there. Unable to find work, the homeless living in the shelter have bleak hopes of having a better future and tend to start consuming drugs.

Ramesh, an experienced migrant who has lived in the city for long does not advise anyone to lose hope and blame their fate. He said, “There are many opportunities to work and earn. You cannot find such opportunities in the village. The shelter is a good initiative as it provides them with a place to rest, toilet facilities and even free medical facilities.” If one has to stay on the roads, he has to pay Rs 40 for beds and Rs 5-10 for using the public washroom. If someone falls sick, he is not treated well in government hospitals and is made to wait for a long time.

42-year-old Ramesh has not lost hope. He advises everyone to not feel disillusioned. He requires work urgently. He is also open to learning a new skill. Even though he has lost all hope of going back home and does not know whether his mother is alive or not. But even in such a grim situation, he is determined to earn a good amount of money before going home.

“Making shelters is not a solution but just the first step,” Harsh Mander, Director of Centre for Equity Studies, rightly pointed out. He further added that “The government sees homeless as people who are just looking for a roof for the night and it never goes beyond that. We need to know that they are homeless because they came to a city to earn a livelihood, could not afford housing and succumbed to the harsh reality. Some took to drugs and some started to commit crimes.”  (Hindustan Times, August 20, 2016)

In an interview with Hindustan Times, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board chief VK Jain said that it is important for the homeless to be engaged in a vocation. “Once they learn a skill, they can earn and can lead a respectable life. It will give their life a meaning,” said Mr Jain. The board is planning to start 10 skill training centres within the existing 197 shelters. Here they will be taught plumbing, carpentry, electric work, along with other vocational subjects.

We still need to analyse the existing requirements of theses ‘skilled workers’ and the quality of training being provided. Ten centres for 197 shelters appears to be a small change. Providing skill is one thing, ensuring a livelihood is another.

_

Image Source: Yaap Raaf/ Flickr
You must be to comment.

More from Drishti Agarwal

Similar Posts

By Vanshika Bhatt

By Mushin No Shin

By Rafia khan

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below