These are just some of the beautiful faces in the community who I have the privilege of capturing in a photo on good days, on bad days, and all the days in-between. They’re always willing participants, and if they aren't the camera stays put away. They also participate behind the lens taking many photos with my camera, some of which are extraordinary moments that only they can capture, essences of a friend or a parent or a child that only they see. Since we've been away from Mumbai due to the ongoing pandemic, I get many requests from the children and their parents to send them photos via text that I've taken of them or their family, from as far back as 2009. I see them from a different perspective than they see themselves. We've documented their lives for years creating a time capsule of sorts for the families that endures in pixels instead of printed photographs that don't stand the test of time, humidity and dust, when hidden away in a box of their belongings of their homes. When I raise the camera, it's to capture a fleeting moment in their lives rather than a formal portrait, although they love to pose for a photo, and I happily oblige when they put on their best clothes, grab a friend, and stand in front of a colourful wall waiting for the click of the shutter.
Since the pandemic started in March of 2020, there has been a lot of frustration, anxiety, tension and worry in the community. We heard them when they lost their jobs and couldn't buy food, when they were sick and needed medicine, when they needed help to study online and we purchased a few tablets for them to share, and had wifi installed in Indu's home for everyone to use. We hoped for better days in 2021, and for some, the cloud lifted a bit. Some of the parents found work again or were hired back to their old jobs. Some left the community for good when their jobs disappeared, heading to their native villages to live with extended family. Indu has been busy doing what we would do if we could be there; visiting families who need help, arranging rations for families, keeping the children engaged in their online studies, and hosting small parties for birthdays, all while tending her two daughters. The daily online conversations we have with Indu and many of the children via WhatsApp and Instagram, is an indulgence we covet. Indu gives us the information we need to make decisions, and through her, we’re grateful to be a part of the community, no matter how far away we are, involved in their worst days and their best days.
There have been operations, hospital stays, marriages, babies, school triumphs, college admissions, and job changes. Should 2022 be the year that we safely return to Mumbai, it’ll be met with disbelief and a lot of joy. Photos, video calls and text messages can’t replace being there.
Many of the people in the photos above have benefited from your donations this year. Here's a list of how your donations helped this community in 2021. !Thank You from all of us!
Nandchhaya Vidya Niketan English Medium School
Fees to date paid for 25 students: 175,200 rupees / CAD$3504
Shivner Vidya Mandir School
Fees to date paid for 2 students: 14,400 rupees / CAD$288
Shivan Vidya Mandir School:
Fees to date paid for 3 students: 23,800 rupees / CAD$476
Singhad Junior College of Business:
Fees to date paid for 1 student: 8665 rupees / CAD$173.30
Shan-E-Islam Urdu High School:
Fees to date paid for 3 students: 16,350 rupees / CAD$327
St Judes Primary School:
Fees to date paid for 1 student: 16,100 rupees / CAD$322
Total school fees paid in 2021 (35 students): 254, 515 rupees / CAD$5090.30
School fees are for the 2021-22 school year (June 2021 - April 2022). Indu continues to pay the fees as needed/requested by parents. These are the fees she paid in 2021. Ongoing fee payments will continue in 2022 for this current school year.
-A uterine cyst removal: hospital stay and subsequent care/meds: 20,000 rupees/CAD$400
(we gave the family this amount towards the total bill which was in excess of 20,000 rupees)
-A case of TB required a 5 day stay in hospital plus required tests: 46,808.94 rupees/CAD$936.17
(there will be 6 month regimen of meds to follow ending in June 2022 which we will pay for)
-A case of severe chronic back pain: Doctor consult/lab tests/an MRI/medicine: 9422 rupees/CAD$188.44
-Auto-rickshaw fees: 635 rupees/CAD$12.70)
(We supplied cash for auto-rickshaw fees to get the patient to and from the doctor's office and medical test locations)
Medical fees for other patients as required:
- medicine for scabies: 2000 rupees/CAD$40
- blood work: 1050 rupees/CAD$21
- meds : 287 rupees/CAD$5.74
- covid test: 250 rupees/CAD$5.00
- covid vaccine (2) 1560/CAD$31.20
Total medical bills for 2021: 82,012.94 rupees/CA$1640.25
-20 families received rations in 2021
-1 family received rent help
Total: 63,820 rupees/CAD$1276.40
Birthday Parties for 15 children/Diwali party, and holiday party in December:
-cake, gifts, snacks for approximately 45 - 50 children each time
Total: 16,946 rupees/CAD$338.92
School Text Books:
(for one college student): 1615 rupees/CAD$32.30
Internet (for Indu’s tuition classes/online learning):
-January 27, 2021 (3 months): 1435 rupees/CAD$28.70
-June 29, 2021 - December 26, 2021: 2832 rupees/CAD$57.44
-New modem (June 2021): 3000 rupees/CAD$60
-One Year Internet (December 27, 2021 - December 27, 2022): 4248 rupees/CAD$84.96
Total amount spent in 2021: CAD$8,609.27
This total amount is lower than previous years due to approximately half of the school fees paid this year. The reasons for this are that some families moved back to family villages until the pandemic is over; some of the students we pay for each year have completed school; school has moved online; many families who live in other communities don’t know how to contact Indu where they would previously have asked her about fees help when at the school when she dropped off her child. Other families have found or resumed work this year and have been able to pay partial fees for their children. This total will increase as Indu continues to pay school fees for the current school year which ends in April 2022. The new school year starts in June 2022.
If you'd like, you can stay updated on the community by checking out our regular weekly posts on Instagram and Facebook.