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From yoga to Slumdog Millionaire, Delhi govt hosts 1st ‘slum festival’ for night shelter residents

Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board hosting 6-day event along with civil society & NGOs. Idea is to celebrate potential of people from humble backgrounds, says official.

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New Delhi: The first-ever ‘slum festival’ organised by the Delhi government in the national capital will showcase talent of all those who reside in night shelters, said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Monday.

The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), in association with civil society and non-governmental organisations such as PRAYAS, Akshay Patra and Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan, is hosting the event at Sarai Kale Khan to sensitise public about the plight of the marginalised section of the society.

“Delhi has the most number of night shelters in the country. The cause of the homeless is very close to [CM Arvind] Kejriwal’s heart. In the last seven years, he has done a lot for the poor — from giving ration free and forgiving electricity bills to establishment of mohalla clinics and providing free bus service for women. But the artist of the residents of the night shelter was not brought out before, but it has been done now,” Sisodia said at the inauguration of the six-day event that began Monday.

The event was being organised to bring out the story of the homeless people in Delhi and those who despite the difficulty of their situation were able to achieve success in their life, according to DUSIB.

The inauguration saw a number of night shelter residents participate in dance, music and story-telling sessions. Films like ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon’ — whose narratives move around slum children and a homeless migrant — were shown at the venue.

While yoga and meditation camps, film screenings, puppet shows, poetry recitation will be part of the event,  camps for making Aadhaar and voter cards are also lined up for the coming days.

Sisodia gave out awards to those performing academically well and distinguishing themselves in other fields. One such group of five girls from Jama Masjid area along with their instructor Farheen Naaz was awarded a trophy. The group arranges food and heritage walks for tourists in Old Dehi.

“We are from the ‘Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein’ NGO founded by my brother and I. We work in association with the Business and Community Foundation to train girls from shelter homes in Jama Masjid area for exploring sources of dignified income to support their family and education,” Naaz said at the event.

Kiosks were installed by NGO ‘Jan Pal’ meant to make E-Shram cards for the informal workers and to spread awareness about the government’s welfare schemes like PM SVANidhi Yojana among poor vendors and others.

The Eye and Medical Centre and other charitable organisations had also put up a temporary setup to provide free eye-check ups and general medical check up. Both the camps were meant only for the inaugural day of the event to commemorate the World Homeless Day.

DUSIB CEO K. Mahesh told ThePrint that something like this has never happened before in Delhi. “The highest number of night shelters with the most capacity in the country are in Delhi but people are not sensitised,” he said.

The talents that exist in slums were amazing and it is important to spread awareness and recognise these talents, he said.

“People like Nisar Ahmad [once hailed as India’s Usain Bolt] come from humble backgrounds. We have people in night shelters becoming superstars. One became an income tax officer. Should we not recognise their success despite hurdles and other hardships they faced in life?” he told ThePrint, adding that the big turnout despite rains show that people have appreciated this initiative.

There are 66 permanent shelters and 84 temporary ones for the homeless in the city, according to the DUSIB.

(Edited by Tony Rai)


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