If I am remembering correctly Senthil and RaghuRam were there with me when I first visited AC3. Before visiting AC3 I already had some idea about AC3 and the entire community center initiatives through the interaction with Jeeva. The visit was to discuss about a community cooking program. I think we met at Sarasu’s house. The plan was to prepare lunch on Sunday (30th Oct 2012) getting everyone involved, students, IT professionals, AC3 area people and FSMK volunteers etc. Sarasu was given in charge of coordinating cooking activities. I was one of the coordinator from FSMK side and my responsibility was to ensure money is collected and handed over to Sarasu towards the expense of cooking.
On the day of program around 20+ students and few from IT professionals came down to AC3. Program went well. Everyone involved in cooking, from college students to IT professional who were present there on that day. For many both boys and girls that was the first time they involve in cooking ,found it difficult though. However for Sarasu and her friends everything was as usual , except that they have to prepare food for more people. Later whole attendees were grouped and asked to visit households at surrounding areas of AC3 to interact with families. Post lunch we screened Bombay: Our City A documentary film by Anand Patwardhan telling the story of daily battle for survival of 4 million slum dwellers who face a constant threat of eviction in Bombay(now known Mumbai). Followed by some discussion. It was good day , hectic though.
I hear and read about SLUMS in cities and pathetic living condition over there , but this was the first time I happened to experience it and got a chance to talk with people living in slums. I can undoubtedly say that it was not their fault to end up their life in such a condition. The problem lies somewhere else. I am not ready to buy the argument that its their fate. From my interactions with the localities I could understand that the dropout rates are more in areas like this. Whether they interested to continue their education or not they are forced to earn in early age of their life when other students are continuing their professional courses. Sarasu is a living example. She had to stop her academics due to the pressure from her families. Later due to the influence of folks like Senthil and other she could continue her education, now she is working as an admin in a Bangalore based company and I was glad to know that. However Sarasu is one from other 100s of students who got better support and she could make it.
The experience I had attending this program was unforgettable. The photos taken during the event are here