What is Dharavi?
Dharavi is defined as one of the largest slums in Asia. It is situated in the middle of Bombay, sandwiched between the two main suburban railways and is home to 60% of the city’s population. In Dharavi more than 1 million people share the area of 175 hectares. People live in small shacks made of tin, plastic and material from old garbage. Dharavi has a a poor public health with a lack of sanitation. The scarcity of toilet facilities lead to people using the local river, Mahim Creek for urination and human waste. During the monsoon period Mahim creek floods which makes the problem with diseases even larger. With these living conditions many people would think that life in Dharavi is miserable. A lot of people don’t even tell that they live in Dharavi because of shame. Well, the Dharavi we saw when entering this area is nothing to be ashamed of. This Dharavi is what some people call “The Heart of Bombay”. A Dharavi that many people don’t know about. A place flowing with energy and with 15 000 single-room factories producing goods worth of more than $5 million a year. A place that gathers all different talents of Bombay in one place.
In the old days Mumbai consisted of 7 separated islands. In between two of the islands Dharavi was situated, consisting of pure mangrove swamp which provided work for a whole fishing industry. One day the British council decided to connect the islands, which meant death to the mangrove and the fishing industry. The land became unused and a lot of people from the countryside started to migrate. The old fishermen had lost their land which was the only economy they knew about. They now had to come up with ideas on how to survive, although all they knew was how to fish. Their knowledge combined with the migrants different cultures and knowledge was the start of a melting pot of creativity. A creativity deriving from the basic need of survival. A creativity searching for sustainable solutions for survival. We believe that this creativity still lives within the people of Dharavi. The power of Pangea Day combined with their creativity will be one step closer to a positive change.