“People in school behave badly with me because I live in a basti (informal settlement). I can’t stop fearing for the safety of our house at all times. What if we get evicted again?” says 17-year-old Usha Bisoi from Shanti Nagar FCI Colony, Bhubaneshwar.
Class X student Usha doesn’t live in a pucca (permanently constructed) house. She doesn’t have access to a toilet at home. “It becomes a problem, especially at night”, she says. “We need a toilet in every house, and the home should be built of strong, durable material. I would like to build my own house on a secure plot of land, with a latrine, a tap, and other facilities available inside”, she says. At school, Usha faces discrimination because she lives in a basti (informal settlement). “People behave badly with me. They think that those in bastis are up to no good. I feel really bad”, she says. Even when she is at school, Usha can’t help worrying about the situation at home. “I worry in case there is an eviction. I am scared of the police”, she concludes.
#UprootedChildhoods is a collaboration between Leher and YUVA (Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action), attempting to spark dialogue on a critical yet oft invisibilised concern—the views of children on housing. The campaign draws from YUVA’s in-depth interventions with children over the years across cities, and Leher’s focus and commitment to child rights, with a preventive approach towards child protection. Through the different blogs, photo essays, video stories, infographics and other formats we hope to present many faces of urban childhoods.