The US Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer, and his wife Sally, visited our ACORN India ‘Dharavi Project’ on May 11, 2010. The US consul general in Mumbai, Paul Flomsbee, who has previously visited the project, was also present. Roemer was interested in seeing how the Dharavi rag-picker community contributes to the ecological well-being of the city, and how the Dharavi Project enhances their livelihood.
Roemer was given an overview of the Dharavi Project’s mission and activities, and then provided a tour of the non-profit’s newly-commissioned office and waste segregation center, a paper recycling facility, and the massive waste collection area nearby. During the visit, Roemer personally interacted with rag-picker members and recyclers, as seen in the first picture below, and even played a quick round of cricket with rag-pickers kids while balancing on one of the massive pipelines leading out of the city. Two members of the rag-picker community, Rafique and Lakshmi, shown in the third picture below, described their work to Roemer. Finally, Roemer tried his hand at one of the paper recycling machines.
Roemer learned about how the Dharavi Project program in Mumbai organizes 400 or so rag-picker members, gives them identification, and runs relevant waste management and cultural programs with 30+ schools, artists and even some corporates. The Dharavi Project also works closely with the American School of Bombay on a ‘waste matters’ campaign that helps the school kids manage their waste and donate a portion of it to the rag-pickers. Roemer expressed his support for a similar program with the new US consulate facility in Bandra Kulra Complex.