The Little Dancers at Triratna Prerna Mandal, Santa Cruz.
"Government's work is god's work". This is the message written outside the Vidhan Sabha in the neighbouring state of Karnataka. But there's nothing called god and if it, he or she does exist, help is only for those who help themselves. It's the same with the governments eeverywhere. And this organisation called Triratna Prerna Mandal in Santa Cruz West probably has the lesson for Mumbai mushrooming SRAs (I'm using it as the name for slum rehab housing projects) who can expect nothing from the Government once the homes are built except more taxes.
This part of Santa Cruz is home to several garment and textile businesses. They are all sweatshops and the people who live here provide much of the manpower. Triratna, which according to their website proclaims is on a mission to enhance excellence in environment, education and enterprise (website) works for the community here. They provide an interesting example of how a thriving, caring community can be created in an urban jungle.
I was there to document their work for O&M and their client Deutsche Bank who awarded them the Urban Age Award for all the things they do and to support their work. These images are extra shots from that project.
I will begin with one of the smaller things they do.
It's a dance school for kids in the area and conducted by a dancer named Bobby. It's conducted in a community hall that's owned by the BMC. The BMC was not doing anything with the place. The people at Triratna got together cleaned the place and now use it for the things they claim to do - enhancing environment, education and enterprise but they also use it for these dance classes.
There were about 30 children from 5 to 18 years there. They were there after school and before they go home to do their homework. And they are all here because they love to dance. They will make friends and connections that will last a lifetime and most importantly, they are not there on the streets wasting the best days of their lives in the wrong company.
The people at Triratna, didn't seem to look at it that way. For them, the dance class is a free service they offer because it's popular, especially after the reality dance shows. But these kids can dance and how. I'm sure they will be on one of these TV shows one of these days!
Later, I will show you some of the other things they do that makes them an excellent example for how things could be made to happen in this city.
Triratna was also features at DB's tent at the Indo-German Urban Mela. Jyotika aka Curry Spice has the details here.