Wednesday, September 18, 2019 | ePaper

The Pavement dwellers

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Contd from page 4 :
the rights of the Pavement dwellers. In collaboration with the advocacy and networking organization Coalition for the Urban Poor (CUP) and the government partner organisation the Dhaka city corporation Amrao Manush Project was launched in Dhaka city in 2008. Since then pavement dwellers centres to provide need- based services were set up in ten zones of the Dhaka city and development and welfare oriented works have been continuing to address the woes of the pavement dwellers. Ten thousand plus pavement dwellers are the beneficiaries of this project.
Pavement dwellers are inspired to form group with social awareness. They are given assistance in getting need- based basic services and other indispensable facilities. Strategic education and skill development training are imparted for job creation.
The pavement dwellers are given all-out cooperation to help them upgrade and reach the stage of home-life from the deplorable state of Pavement dwelling. The Three implementing organizations-Sajeda Foundation, Nari Moitry and social and economic Enhancement program (SEEP) -- execute this programme.
The advocacy and networking organization Coalition for the Urban Poor (CUP) is engaged in advocacy work for this project. CUP provides assistance to the implementing organisations to ensure government, nongovernment facilities and due civic amenities for the beneficiaries of the implementing organizations and coordinate between the related activities of these organisations. Multilateral efforts are taken to create public opinion in favour of the pavement dwellers to help them achieve their due rights. Efforts are made to draw the attention of the authorities by applying pressure policy wherever needed for inclusion of the pavement dwellers and their legitimate rights in the formulation of the national policy. In order to create mass awareness and sensitise them about the sad condition of the Pavement dwellers media campaign and mass publicity in diversified forms are made at local and national levels.
As an essential service provider government organization the Dhaka City Corporation is an important partner of the Amrao Manush project under the slum development sharing deal. The City Corporation with the united and coordinated government and non-government efforts extend cooperation to the Amrao Manush project implementation organisation in executing program for the improvement of the lot of the pavement dwellers. City Corporation along with the implementing organisation plays a key and effective role in the inclusion of the pavement dwellers as per Dhaka City Corporation ordinance.
City Corporation implements its fixed program for the welfare of pavement dwellers with the budget allocation from its own fund. City Corporation activities in this regard include birth registration certificate, health care, expansion of education, disaster shelter, recreation facility and allotment of land for housing, etc.
There are ten pavement Dweller Centres (PDCs) at different locations with most concentration of pavement dwellers. These-PDCs continue to provide need based care and services to more than ten fillers, who are the beneficiaries of this project.
Lack of toilet is a serious problem faced by the pavement dwellers. They come at the PDCs and take their bath and wash their clothes. They can freely use the toilets here. They can save the money they would spend as cost of using public toilets.
Pavement dwellers get the cooking facilities at the PDCs. They prepare food here in a conducive environment and eat hygienic food with full Satisfaction. Those who are habituated to eat food prepared here develop a dislike for cooking on the pavement under the open sky. Even they hate to go out for a meal at the roadside cheap hotel at high price.
Pavement dwellers find PDC as an ideal place for taking a break from hard toil. They can relax here for some time. They take rest, pass a little while in indoor games and amusement. Thus they refresh their body, rejuvenate themselves with fresh vigour and energy and return to their place of work. Women, children and adolescent girls, who are at risk, pass their untroubled nights here. In winter warm clothes are distributed to the pavement dwellers by the PDCs.
Every PDC offers locker facilities to the pavement dwellers. They keep whatever little personal effects they have in the PDC lockers for safe custody. They keep their little assets and resources including dress, cosmetics, small savings, utensils and other household goods in the lockers. There is a separate locker with a fixed number for each of the member pavement dwellers.
The key of the locker is handed over to the beneficiary pavement dwellers. The locker facilities ensure security and safety and protection of their assets. As a result, they remain free from cares and anxiety.
Working mothers living on the pavement keep their children in the day-care centres and go to their work place. Nutritious and balanced food is supplied to the children at nominal prices.
Medical tests, growth monitoring and wait upon the children are done in the centres for children. The day-care centre staff enthralls the children left to their care with various indoor games, amusement and pastimes the whole day. Children are given informal education through various attractive methods. From such type of child education centres children become suitable for admission in primary schools.
Pavement dwellers centres provide informal education to the children. Elementary education is imparted to those children who have attained the age of receiving education through recreational method. Teachers employed in these centres are dutiful, caring and sympathetic to the helpless children. This is why the devoted teachers here are rearing up the children in such a way that they can find their places in government and non-government primary schools at the right time.
Pavement dwellers centres provide health care to the street people. Mothers and babies are given primary health care, medical attendance and treatment. Mothers and babies are given pre- natal and post- natal care, medical treatment, counsels and necessary medicines and diets from the centres.
Pregnant women, when necessary, are sent to the city maternity clinics or government health centres. There are physicians and experienced health workers to attend on the mothers and babies. Mothers and babies living on the pavement on receiving health care from  the centres feel safe and risk -free largely. Now they are not left neglected or uncared for on the pavement; on the contrary, they are being heated at the pavement dwellers centres.
The centres also run savings schemes. The pavement dwellers save the small surplus of their income and deposit it to the centres according to rules and procedures. Previously the miscreants would snatch or loot the small savings of the pavement dwellers. They would either misuse or squander away their savings. It also happened that they entrusted the money -lender with the small savings they had for safe custody. But they never got back the money as the money-lenders deceived them. But their savings are now being deposited in the centres. Strict precaution is taken against the misuse of that savings. The pavement dwellers can withdraw any amount of their savings according to their needs. With their small savings either they can improve their living standard by finding some suitable jobs.
The centres hold different training courses to raise the skill of the pavement dwellers. The centres offer various vocational training courses which enable the pavement dwellers to find better jobs. Thus they become self-reliant and get escape from the street life.
The staff and employees of the centres create awareness among the pavement dwellers about their rights as citizens, and their contribution to the development of the city. The centres also train them how to raise and place their demands to the authorities for realisation of their rights. The centres also discuss their condition and problems thoroughly and counsel them. This gives the pavement dwellers a tremendous fillip to search for a new life.
Amrao Manush (we are men too) project has become a beacon of hope for the pavement dwellers. Countless paupers and homeless people made the pavement their makeshift homes. Those who had no definite address previously now find an address. Many of them have raised their family. For a large member of pavement dwellers life is no longer a burden as they are to some extent solvent. With the service and assistance rendered by the centres the expenditures of the pavement dwellers have been trimmed significantly. With much pains they are making small savings. Many pavement dwellers have enhanced their income by running small business or shops.
A large number of them are doing jobs on completion of technical and vocational training. They are working in mills and factories, government and private offices as temporary or permanent employees. Many of them have shifted to small rooms on rent. Those who are reluctant to stay permanently in the city have returned to their villages by earnings capital, savings and personal assets. Due to strong advocacy and lobbying the government authorities. Concerned are coming forward to recognise them as citizens and work for the uplift of their fate and status.
Meanwhile, the authorities have agreed to include the subject of housing for the pavement dwellers in the Government Housing Policy -2012. The National Human Rights Commission has underscored the liability of the government to plan for shelter of the pavement dwellers. The authorities have been urged to issue their Birth Registration Certificates and National Identity Card recognising their place of stay as their address. The city corporation has opened a new head in its budget and allocated a fixed amount of money for the pavement dwellers. Steps are being taken to procure permanent jobs and for their rehabilitation through block grants in some areas under the projects which will be expanded by phases. Dhaka City Corporation has approved land allotment to build housing projects in five areas of the city for the pavement dwellers. In 2012, land allotment process has been completed in one area. Meanwhile, many of the pavement dwellers, who are registered witty the centres, have collected their birth registration certificates and National ID cards. The city corporation is playing a vital role in the education and cultural development including the health care and awarding stipends for the school-going students of the pavement dwellers. The shishu kollayn trust under the Primary Education Department has consented to involve the children belonging to Amrao Manush project in the education and vocational education program.
Streets or shanties or mansion-- wherever people may reside, we are all men; we are all neighbours to, one another. It is a bounden duty for all of us to establish the pavement dwellers with full dignity and status of human beings.
The dream of the Independence was to establish a society with no disparity. It is an unpleasant truth that we still live in a society full of disparities. We cannot change this, society overnight or whenever we like to do it. But why we being the fortunate members of this society won’t be able-to come to the aid of the unfortunate pavement dwellers and extend our helping hands to them with love, compassion and kindness? Let us unite to build a society and a country where there will be no pavement dwellers.

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