I have worked with a good deal of NGOâ€™s in India over the years but never in Mumbai so, I was keen to get involved and experience how organisations work in this city that is known for its extremeâ€™s of wealth and poverty and for the fact that 55% of the population live in a slum of some sort.
In doing some research I came across Reality Tours which is a company that offers tours of one of the biggest slums in Asia, Dharavi (See Stephâ€™s blog A life different than your own), the tour was something we really wanted to do, and I also discovered that they have a NGO arm called Reality Gives which takes 80% of their profits and re-invests them into the community in Dharavi, including a community centre, education programâ€™s and other classes for kids and adults alike.
After reaching out and offering my services to work on a photography project to document the work they do, I received an email back thanking me for the offer, but rather than photographing the Dharavi tour, they had a couple of other tours that they needed better marketing material for to help grow the tour business and subsequently help grow the financial impact of the NGO in Dharavi. I jumped onboard to help out and give back to this great organisation
One of the main objectives of the tours is to break down the negative attitudes that many people have towards people from less developed communities- particularly the slums. The common stereotype – often reinforced by media and popular culture – of idle, passive and often criminal slum-dwellers is something we strive to change.
Reality Tours is a social business. 80% of all profits is used for the activities of our sister organisation and NGO (charity) Reality Gives. What this means in reality is that between 25% and 35% of the income generated by Reality Tours is used for Reality Gives’s activities. Why do we do this? Because a large percentage of our income is generated through the Dharavi tours and we felt that it was right to put most of the money back.
Money from the tours goes to support the activities of our sister organization Reality Gives – an NGO supporting projects to improve the quality of lives in our underprivileged communities. Reality Gives itself currently runs projects such as a progressive kindergarten, a community centre for young adults, and English language support in a local government school: there’s an opportunity to visit the kindergarten and community centre on our Dharavi tours.
For more information and to see some of the photographs used please follow the below links:
And for more information on the trip follow here to the McMiniens blog