Slum Interventions

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Skill Building among the Elderly Poor in Mumbai Slums


  • To teach simple skills that do not need much dexterity of fingers.
  • To mobilise candidates 55plus of age can join the centre
  • To employ professionals well versed in the Skill as trainers
  • To hold adequate practice sessions to master the skill
  • To form, after course completion, Self Help Groups (SHG)
  • To enskill the SHG with techniques of production, marketing, and income generation on a regular basis
  • To motivate the elderly into a permanent income generation activity for at least another 5-10 years.

The entire nation seems to have written off the 60+ for skill development. We do not see many programmes being implemented in skill building among the elderly. Probably because the problem of lack of skills among the youth is so vast, no one is even ready to take a look at old people’s development. There is a huge unwritten recognition that the Old:

  • Are a spent force
  • Not worth investing in training
  • Health and food are their priorities not skills learning
  • Anyway they have reached an age that is beyond learning

But society’s role in taking care of senior citizens in return for their 60 years of contribution to the economic development is forgotten. It goes against the grain of scientific research that no growth and development is possible after 60 years. There is strong gerontological evidence that senior citizens can learn and cultivate new neural connections in the brain, and keep themselves fulfilled and fun filled in their autumnal years.

Dignity Foundation’s Initiative in 2017

For the past ten years, through the Ration Supplies Programme, Dignity Foundation had the opportunity to familiarise itself with the poverty conditions of the elderly. For the past 4 years intensive intervention work in 6 slums of Mumbai has given it an idea of the numerous problems faced by them. One recognition is that improvements in medical technology and cure of disease have rendered the elderly poor with more number of years to live and sustain themselves. And with adequate care given to their health maintenance it is possible to help them into learning a new skill that can produce an all-rounded improvement in their psycho-social status. Introducing a guided skill development, it is possible to help them earn Rs. 100 a day.

The following training programmes among the elderly are being implemented in the Dignity Skill Development Centres in Mumbai-- Jogeshwari, Mankhurd, Byculla and Sea Link centres

  • Paper Bag Making
  • Diya Painting

Diya Painting started in 2017 pre-Diwali days at Jogeshwari Centre. Some 40 elders participated. We use the Diyas for greeting the donors and wishing them happy Diwali. Some were sold in the market and proceeds given to the centre.

  • Couple showing off their wares

  • Diya making at jog

  • Jog Diya making

Newspaper recycling into Bags
Sponsored by Nihchal Israni Foundation

Paper bag making is a worthwhile business opportunity in recent times when civil societies and even corporations declaring plastic materials and bags as hazardous environmental disasters. Using paper bags for shopping and all carry-back situations is a step ahead towards the green movement. Paper bags have got identified as eco-friendly, hence seen as a fashion statement. Its demand and popularity goes on increasing in the market as it is cheap in price; durable enough to hold more items at once and most importantly it is biodegradable, so safe for our environment. When a paper bag gets torn, it can be reused frequently because it is made of 35% recycled material.

This is perfect time to step into paper bag making business because of the ban imposed by municipal corporations on the use of plastic bags in various states of India. Government is taking necessary steps in educating people about hazards of plastics and related materials, and in many states of India we see that use of paper carry bags are slowly overtaking plastic bags.

A total of 480 beneficiaries are being trained and set up as Self Help Group members with capacity for each beneficiary to earn Rs. 100/200 at least a day – depending however on how fast they learn to produce. A marketing executive at the HO facilitates finding regular customers among shops and other establishments. Such a person will be located within the group, once we have established all retail outlets. To manage recruitment, training, production, SHG formation and sales, there is one Social Worker. Two community mobilisers are employed for four centre programmers in order to motivate old people to attend course for FREE, along with a nutritional beverage fed to them on a daily basis.

  • Mankhurd Newspaper Bag making

  • Newspaper bag making at Jogeshwari Centre