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Floods >> Work done by NGOs >> Women's Centre:

We are an old autonomous women's group of this city, as well as a registered public trust.

We mainly support women victims of violence; and are involved in campaigns on women's rights. (You will find our name and address in the Yellow Pages and at the bottom of this email.)
Registration No: F8220 Bom
Tax deduction certificate under 80 G is available.

Our office is situated near the Municipal School of the Vakola Area in Santacruz (E). Nearby are several bustees which have been badly affected by the deluge and flooding on the 26th of July. Relief has been rather haphazard. Yesterday, there was an attempt to distribute kerosene, with police help. But havoc broke loose. The police were themselves attacked. While this has been reported in the papers, a girl was pushed into a gutter by other women, also trying to collect kerosene; and she nearly died and has been admitted into hospital.

We were trying to look at the situation of women who are divorced, or deserted or unmarried and living alone in the bustees to see what help we could offer; to see if they had special problems.

Some of them have got relief from upto 4 agencies (example, Kalina area) and are mainly distressed about having lost their TV etc. Because it is not easy for them to get it back. But other places have not got that much, though some relief is there. 
With one such woman, 27 year old Maya, who is a victim of domestic violence, but whose husband has run off to their village, we visited a bustee near a wall of the domestic airport. (Shastri Nagar/ Kapurwadi area)

Maya who had passed H.S.C. (12th standard) before marriage herself had been helped by the Women's Centre, to resist domestic violence and to get a one
year diploma in being a nursing care assistant. She lives in a 10 by 7- 8 feet tenement, with one 7 year old daughter, in a cluster of 150 houses, in Kapurwadi, near Dhobighat, which in turn is situated in the Vakola Bridge area.  She currently works for a family as nursing care assistant. Domestic violence suffered by Maya from her husband was very severe; but the chawl belongs to her husband, even though he is not there. The Centre has helped her to get legal help and to file an injunction against the house being sold by the now absent husband.

The main road in Vakola had been flooded, though not as badly as Kalina. The bustees nearby were all flooded seriously. During the floods, all houses in this bustee were under 7 to 8 feet of water. A nullah runs under the concrete gully; and anyway the flood waters came also over the wall from the airport land. The marks of the waters are visible on the walls even now; and the walls and floors are still damp. Maya's own floor has been damaged. An old steel cupboard that she has was inundated with water. Most of her papers were damaged, including her certificate, partially. In the house opposite hers, a little girl fell off from the bed into the flood waters; for a little while her mother could not find her. The residents were all able to save themselves, by holding on to sticks brought by young boys
and to each other. They all took shelter that night in the Vakola Municipal School, next door to the Women's Centre.
While we were visiting Maya's house, all women of the gully came to her house, to tell about this terrible experience. Maya is the only woman in that gully who is a victim of domestic violence; but she has complete support from all the families living near her. They are married to men who work as electricians, vegetable vendors and other such jobs. They are all still deeply distressed about the floods. The psychological scars are there; and the need to talk. The women seem mainly upset about the damage to the houses; the dampness on the walls; the damage to their 'nests' that they so lovingly maintained. Maya's own house, which had some cement and red oxide on the floor, now has a hole through which we can see the ground. It is very damp, and she does not yet have a cot.

Some distribution of relief has taken place in this area; for example, by Priya Dutt. But it has been mainly done in the main road. This bustee is very much inside, from the Nehru Road, and did not recieve the sort of relief that was distributed on the main road. In some areas, there is also simmering community based little resentments. (For example, feeling that the nearby South Indian community received excellent relief from a religious organization etc.)

Number of houses proposed to be covered:  200
Total no of people:  5 to 8 per household, ie,about 1200, including small kids.
House to house and orderly distribution is not difficult, since they have a committe for the gully whom we met. They are well organized.
Community: Mostly Maharashtrian Hindus.

Number of houses in the whole settlement: One thousand and three hundred

Relief received:

*All women were able to get the 10 kg grains that the government has distributed.
* Each house has a package of one bottle of phenol, one tube of Pepsodent (laughed over with some merriment) and one packet of wheel detergent. The
unopened packets were brought out for our inspection!
* Someone has distributed one bottle (presumably 1 litre) of palm oil, from house to house.
*All women were able to get the 10 kg grains that the government has distributed.

Relief not received:

* They have not been able to get kerosene, they said, because the women could not get it in the violence. So far. (Today there are more orderly
queues in the area, and they may get it soon.) Kerosene is available apparently, in shops, in other areas, for about Rs.25 per litre.
* No medicines so far, though they find that there are some fever cases; one boy died, according to the women, because he drank the flood waters. No
other deaths or hospital admissions. they are a little worried about leptospirosis and were adviced to go to VN Desai hospital.
* No sign of the Rs.5000 promised by the Government so far. They do not know anything about the forms or how to get it.
*There is no milk in the area.

What the women said they need, and will be of great use to them:

 ->Cotton chaddars. What they had have been damaged and are still stinking.
->Any kind of mattresses
->Nylon mats, which can keep the dampness out on the floor.

-> Cooking oil
->Any basic grains
-> They said they will be happy to have other food items too; but oil and grains are the priority.

iii) Clothing:
Clothing in good condition, for men, women and children will be deeply appreciated.
The men find that they do not have enough pants and shirts etc to go to work. Women will appreciate saris and petticoats.

Proposed packages:

Food Package:
- 2kg Rice
- 2kg Atta
- 2kg non-oil Tuar daal
- Cooking Oil 1 litre
- Tea leaves Half kg
- Salt packet
- Sugar 2kg

(Rough estimate, of the cost of the food package, without the packaging of grains is Rs.220.00, after discussion with dealer. Dealer wants 2 days notice to give the items.)

Bedding Package:
- 2 kholapuri Chaddars (talking to wholesalers in Dadar) This, we feel will also help the weavers of Maharashtra and the traders of these hardy chaddars!
- 1 nylon mat

We are approaching wholesalers and grain merchants to get a better deal. With all that taken into consideration, the budget for these 200 households will come to Rs.1,00,000.00/= (Rs. One lakh only)
We hope that some agency will contribute this as soon as possible.
Clothing items we will try to mobilize separately.

Address of the Women's Centre:
104 B, Sunrise Apts;
Nehru Road
Above Canara Bank
Vakola, Santacruz (E)
Mumbai - 55

Tele: 2668 0403
Cheques may be addressed to "Women's Centre".

sincerely yours,
Ammu Abraham, Managing Trustee and Co-ordinator, Women's Centre.