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Growing up Fearless: Demanding for a Safe Community at Bandra

By November 30, 2020December 21st, 2023No Comments

I am Bibi Rehmat, I study in 10th class at Kher Nagar Urdu Secondary Municipal School. I live in Behram Nagar in Bandra. I study in class ten. Each day I wake up at 8 am, then I attend online class at 9 till around 11 am. After this, I go back home and then I eat breakfast – Masala dosa is my favourite. But I also like what ammi makes – paratha and a cup of tea. Later, I wash all the vessels, then I just sit around – talk to my sisters, do my homework and practice English; I really want to learn to speak English. Then I do household chores and in the afternoon I come to YUVA community centre. I enjoy the activities and sessions there, and meet my friends too. Then I go home in the evening and do cleaning work in the house. After this I go for Arabi class from 7 to 8 pm. On my way home, I talk to my neighbour aunties and have a quick chat about the day, etc. I eat dinner and then go to sleep. I don’t like sitting idle, I love talking to people – I love speaking to my sisters, we discuss everything we’ve learned, what we did through the day, everything. I also like working on a computer and applying mehendi/henna.

When I was 6 years old I first came to Mumbai. I was born in Gonda District in Basti, Uttar Pradesh. I liked the open spaces and fresh air in my village, there’s too much pollution in the city. But here in the city, there are a lot of opportunities, more freedom compared to in the village, and one can learn English more easily. I really want to learn English well.

In my community, the roads and gullies are narrow and uneven, we often fall down. There are also many open drains. Only few community toilets have lights, but we feel scared. There is only one big playground, Colgate Maidan, but girls don’t go there as our parents don’t allow us because it’s too far. I go only sometimes with ammi. I love playing sports and games like football and catch-and-cook with my friends in school. I used to play but ever since school is shut, we don’t any more.

Rehmat playing an indoor game with her friends at the YUVA community resource centre

I want girls like me in the community to feel safe. There are lots of gullies that are unsafe, there’s a lot of bullying by older kids and eve-teasing in those areas. If this stops and our community becomes safe, all my friends will come out of their homes freely. They will show their talents. They will learn, study and go forward in their lives. But parents also need to be supportive. I hope they are convinced.

Rehmat completing her daily studies. She enjoys learning English and she loves reading story books and newspapers

Our area is also very dirty because of which there are a lot of mosquitoes and insects and the number of people getting sick is increasing day by day. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government is encouraging people to be clean and keep the surroundings clean but our community has not been sanitised as of now.

When I grow up, I want to become a police officer. I want to change a few things. Many times I see that they don’t listen to the ones who are right and favour the ones who are wrong because they have given them a bribe. I want to be a police officer who doesn’t take bribes, and listens to the people who cannot afford a bribe. I want to listen to the people and deliver justice accordingly. There is a lot of robbery and violence in the community; there is also a lot of eve-teasing. I want to stop all of this.

Bibi Rehmat is a child leader of Bal Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, a children’s collective in Bandra East. She is 15 years old. She loves playing sports and enjoys spending time and talking to her sisters and her friends.

This article was first published in Citizen Matters, a civic media website and is republished here with permission. © Oorvani Foundation/Open Media Initiative.

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