OSCAR Foundation and Life in an Indian Slum

This term, the new Head Girl’s Team has been tasked with raising £5,000 for the ‘Kick Like a Girl’ project, run by the OSCAR Foundation, so that in October, a team of young girls from India will be able to fly to England for a football tour of some UK schools. The OSCAR Foundation aims to, through football training, instil the value of education and empower underprivileged children, specifically those who live in slums in India. Hearing stories from OSCAR’s founder, Ashok Rathod, about life in the slums, made me want to know more about the places that the girls we will meet are from.

A slum is defined as an informal settlement that lacks one or more of the following five conditions: access to clean water, access to improved sanitation, sufficient living area that is not overcrowded, durable housing and secure tenure, and astoundingly, one in eight people across the world live in them. In Mumbai, where OSCAR was founded, an estimated 6.5 million people, roughly 55% of the city’s population, live in slums, with Dharavi being one of the largest slum areas.

Dharavi has a population between 600,000 and 1 million, with a population density between 600 to 2,000 people per acre, and because of this, problems with sanitation and disease are extremely evident. Open sewers drain into creeks used for washing, causing the spread of contagious diseases and increasing water pollution. Doctors have to deal with over 4,000 cases of typhoid each day, and air pollutants cause TB and lung cancer to become common among residents. The overcrowding of the slum is so great that in 1896 nearly half of the entire population perished due to the rapid spread of plague, and to this day, epidemics are extremely common. In recent years, this has given rise to cases of drug resistant tuberculosis being reported.

However, the common view that slums are ‘dirty, undeveloped, and criminal places’ does not fit the real living conditions within them. Many documentaries or similar productions have shown that the huts are usually very clean and neat inside, and some even share elements of urban beauty. Even in the smallest of rooms, there is usually a gas stove and continuous electricity, and many people have televisions. Slums have been described as ecosystems, buzzing with activity, and this can be seen by the fact that the Dharavi slum has an informal income with an estimated annual turnover of $1 billion. Thriving, small-scale industries produce goods that are exported all over the world, and recycling is a major industry within the neighbourhood, employing approximately 250,000 people. Finally, with a literacy rate of 69%, the slums in Mumbai are the most literate in the world.

Having learnt a lot more about the type of place that the girls on the ‘Kick Like a Girl’ tour come from, it is really important that the whole school community get behind supporting the OSCAR Foundation and their aim to improve the lives of many children who live in slums. We are incredibly excited to be involved in this venture, and are all looking forward to getting underway with fundraising and meeting the girls in October.

If you would like to make a donation, please visit our fundraising page for the OSCAR Foundation by clicking here

Sophie, LVI Form