In India, we have the incredible opportunity to visit Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. After just moments in Dharavi, visitors feel comfortable and welcome thanks to Krishna Pujari and Reality Tours. This organization, created to demonstrate the positive side of Dharavi, (we try to avoid the word “slum”), exemplifies sustainable tourism and the philosophy of “walking with”. Dharavi is a home for myriad cultures, religions and communities. It is a place of work and rest, laughter and sorrow. Below are initial reactions to a most wonderful place:
Slum life. (Written 6.8.2015)
If you successfully read the above title and successfully filled with the anticipated pangs of sorrow and sympathy, then you clearly didn’t experience what I did today.
You didn’t see people hard at work, prideful at work, welcoming us into their world.
You didn’t watch as youth from opposite sides of the globe collaborated in dance, showed vulnerability through inquiry and laughed, and sweat as the initial bashfulness transformed into a unified rhythm of love and admiration.
If you feel bad and shake your head at the dire nature of that word, “slum”, then you forgot to hope.
You forgot about an organization that has successfully and sustainably chosen to give back, engage and inspire through education and language.
If tears fall because you feel guilty about your life of great fortune and privilege, let them. Then dry them to allow your eyes to connect and smile with theirs.
Zoom out to recognize the symbiotic beauty and oneness of us all.
Zoom out to see the rainbow of plastic and fabric and leather as a masterful tapestry of dedicated lives.
Zoom in to investigate your own heart. Your soul. Your duty to walk with all of us.
Now do you see their smiles?