Apnalaya, Our Space in English, is a non-profit organization, founded in 1973. We work with the most marginalized people living in highly under-served slums of Mumbai.
In 1947 when India became Independent, its average life expectancy was 32 years. By 2014 the national average had risen to 67 years. The life expectancy in M East ward, where we work at present, however, still hovers around 39 years (MHDR 2009). This is 7 years lower than that of Sierra Leone, a West African nation with the lowest life expectancy in the world (World Health Organization, 2013)!
The infant mortality rate in the area is 66.5, while the national rate is 41. Every second child is underweight. Over 90% of pregnant women in 2014-15 were anaemic. Three out of four girls are forced to drop out of school before completing class VIII. Seven out of ten households have no piped-water connection. The unemployment rate is 52%; and of those ‘employed’, the income of 71% is uncertain, as they work as rag-pickers. The average monthly income of a family is Rs. 8,000, i.e., about US$ 121 (Social Economic Conditions and Vulnerabilities, TISS 2015 and unpublished Apnalaya data).
The life in the M East ward of Mumbai is harsh; the challenges are many.