The image that comes to our mind when we hear the word ‘slum’ is hardly colourful or beautiful. The cluttered shanties, the makeshift home and lack of cleanliness also add to the grim realities of slums. But thanks to students of MNIT Jaipur, a slum in the Rajasthan capital is undergoing a wonderful transformation.
Students of the Department of Architecture and Planning of the institute are on a mission to spread happiness in the lives of people living in the Jhalana Mahal Kunda Basti. They cleaned a local dumpster near the slum and installed dustbins, educating the residents to forego their habit of dumping garbage close to their homes. But it’s not just a cleanliness drive contributing to the Swachh Bharat mission.
Now, the volunteers are painting the walls of the houses in the slum and filling it with a riot of colours. “Transforming dull and dispirited lanes into an array of bright and bold castles of wonder. Turning those littered gullies from dumping sites into gathering points and sitting chawls,” says team ‘Nikhaar’, responsible for the project.
The social cause started by a few third-year students has now received support not only from faculties but also civic officials of the Jaipur Nagar Nigam. Talking to the indianexpress.com, team member Krishna Gupta elaborated how it all started. “There was a feeling of doing something good apart for relaxing and en joying during our vacation. Something that would not only bring about a change but also has a positive impact,” she said.
“We wanted to make the presence of MNIT be felt around the region and bring a positive change in people’s lives through art and innovation; turning a dull and gloomy place into a ‘Kingdom of colours'”, throwing light on the thought of the project. It has been suggested in many studies, that bright colours have a positive psychological impact on human mind.
For the first phase on Sunday (July 30), the students and other volunteers painted about houses, they plan to transform another 60.
For the next phase, they want to use their skills and re-use discarded items and turn them into few things that could be sustainable and helpful to the poor people living in the slums. “With the help of a few bamboos, old flexes and other building materials, we plan to make roofs and shades. These multi-purpose pavilions could be used as subzi mandis, put up health camps or even can be used as areas to hold discussions and meetings. Shades could also be put up near the comm unity water tap place,” she added.
They also plan to use tyres, cans, boxes among other junk items to make seating arrangements and modify the existing slum design. The students are also trying to arrange saplings from government nurseries to plant trees at the slum.
Initially, the students contributed from their own pocket but it was exhausted faster than they imaged. Now, seeing the enthusiasm of the students, the National Social Service (NSS) along with community outreach programme of MNIT has come forward to help them with funds. “We are optimistic that looking at the efforts and dedication of the students some individuals and institutions shall surely come forward to fund and support project Nikhaar,” Gupta said in a statement.
Along with Nagar Nigam, that helped the cleanliness drive, an NGO Naya Sawera too has stepped in to support the students. The first event was also attended by members of the local municipal council and Director of MNIT, Jaipur along with many volunteers and slum dwellers.