The following text is a documentation of a neighbourhood in Dharavi, closely connected to URBZ, that has taken steps to nurture its local youth by providing them with a creative space and the tools to learn a variety of invaluable life-long skills. This contribution will briefly showcase the inception of the Shelter at Dharavi, the processes that formed the backbone of its vision, and the children who have embraced the project’s outputs and are beginning to take advantage of the new activities available to them.
The Project’s Inception
The Shelter at Dharavi came into being through a locally-based initiative that was aimed at embracing the children living in New Transit Camp, Social Nagar. A local resident who had been active in the community felt that a particular element was missing; a space for youth to congregate, exchange ideas, create art, play, and learn. His idea was to create a new centre that would be accessible to the community’s youth. The centre would not only provide a space to meet but also a number of organized activities that local children would otherwise not have access to.
Through this grassroots process, the Shelter began to take its root. As the ideas and plans for the centre matured, a decision to construct a building on a recently inherited local plot was made. The local resident who took on the leadership role chose to approach URBZ, asking them to participate and assist local residents in the construction and realisation of their vision. This partnership was welcomed and the subsequent construction of the Shelter as well as the organization of the activities took on a collaborative and participatory methodology.
Soon after the creation of this partnership the Shelter wasted no time in quickly establishing itself as a community hub. A simple building was constructed and soon thereafter the local youth began to fill it. Several volunteers began to work with the Shelter, providing local children with art lessons and other fun afterschool activities. Throughout this time the children and their parents were consulted on what types of programs they would like to see at the Shelter. The results of this simple consultation process called for a fun publicity event, which would soon give way to a great deal of interest in the Shelter from both local residents and individuals from outside of Dharavi. The publicized event would take place over two days and would fittingly be called, Dharavi 48.