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Monday, June 6, 2011

Monsoon spells bad news for the homeless

Navi Mumbai: With monsoon setting in, social workers and NGOs are worried that 30% more homeless will succumb to the fury of rains in the city and its suburbs. 

    Panvel-based NGO Social & Evangelical Association for Love (SEAL), which runs a shelter for the homeless in Navi Mumbai, has once again appealed to the state government and corporates 
to at least provide temporary homes for those who don't have a roof over their heads. 
    "Over the last 12 years, we have noticed that more homeless—especially the mentally challenged—die during the rainy seasons. We try to provide shelter to as many as possible during the monsoon, 
but many still die of diseases,'' founder of SEAL ashram, Pastor K M Philip said. 
    "It is unfortunate that the state does little for the homeless. Even if the government sets up a helpline for concerned citizens to leave information about homeless in their areas, some lives can be saved,'' he said. 
    RTI activist of Mumbaibased Athak Seva Sangh, Anil Galgali, agreed that the state does almost nothing to better the situation of the handicapped homeless. 
    "Of the 90,000 deaths registered annually in the Mumbai region, nearly 2,500 
are those of unknown persons . Most of these are homeless," said Galgali. 
    Pastor Philip added, "We never turn away a homeless person brought to our shelter home, and as a policy we don't demand money either. In this regard, the government can play a critical role in helping the needy persons by actively meeting all such NGOs and discussing the problems we face while doing this work.'' 
    Just a few days ago, Pastor Philip recalled, a helpless person called 'Kalika', was beaten up so severely by some men at the Kalamboli steel market that he has been lying in a state of semi-consciousness at the SEAL ashram for two weeks now. 
    "Why are people and the state so indifferent to the homeless? Even they have a right to live; they too need to 
be cared for by society,'' said Philip. 
    SEAL is also trying to reunite a 23-year-old rescued youth, Bhagyaraj, with his family in Tamil Nadu. Bhagyaraj was found at Panvel railway station in a bad shape. But he is now doing well at the SEAL ashram.

ABODE OF LOVE: (Above) Ankit Parmar from Gujarat was rescued by Panvel-based SEAL from Kanjurmarg station. (Below) Bhagyaraj before and after he was given shelter by the NGO


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