You can play with the hand you are dealt with or you can choose to change the game.
The Ansari family in Shanti Nagar in Mumbai’s M East ward is an example.
It began with two young change makers in the family. Sufiyaan and his sister Ruqaiyya who are a part of the Bal Panchayat – a Community Action Group formed by the youth associated with Apnalaya. This group identifies issues affecting the community and approaches local authorities to resolve them.
One of the issues that the group took up was to ensure regular cleaning and pick up of garbage from their area. Their success encouraged their mother Nasreen Bano to become part of the Adult Volunteers group of Apnalaya. The Adult Volunteers are working to get a legal water connection in the area. “We have to buy water, which is not even clean” says Nasreen.
She is very happy at the way her children confidently participate in making the community a better place. Their latest achievement has been ensuring an increase of police patrols in their area to reduce rampant sexual harassment the girls face. It took several trips to the meet the local police but their persistence paid off.
“These are my people. I belong to this community. People after us must not face the same problems that we do” says Najbunissa the grandmother of the house. She talks to her neighbours and asks them to participate in the activities of the Community Action Groups. She and her daughter-in-law encourage parents to continue with their children’s education, leading by example with their own children. “How does it matter if it is a boy or a girl? They should study hard. We want them to study as much as they can.” says Najbunissa.
The Ansaris make for a heartening picture of hope in M East Ward, a place that the rest of the city has left behind.