A bunch of children are pouring over a chart paper, almost on top of each other in their eagerness to see what’s being drawn. Yet their excitement does not translate into careless exuberance. Rather, it is directed towards the task at hand — creating a map of their home, a slum in Mumbai’s Gautam Nagar. “You’ve forgotten to draw the toilet there,” calls out one child. “Should we add more houses here?” asks another. They are in the process of scrutinizing their living area, with an eye for problems that needed to be fixed.
A year ago, a group of children from this slum had met municipal officials with a map of their neighbourhood, which had been created under the guidance of Humara Bachpan, an NGO based in Bhubaneshwar. They pointed out the location of open electric metres, exposed pipes, leaky taps, and non-functioning toilets. Later, they presented the map to Union Minister of Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Venkaiah Naidu.
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