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The Hope Project is located in the historical Basti Hzt. Nizamuddin, a 12th century village, that grew around the shrine of the Sufi saint Hzt. Nizamuddin Auliya and was engulfed over the centuries by the city of Delhi.Today this predominantly Muslim "urban village" is known for its congested, narrow lanes, tombstones, pilgrims, cuisine, spiritual music, bustling markets and mosques, houses about 1950 families with approximately 20000 residents.
Muslims are a minority in India and many in the basti tend to live insular lives among their own community. As a result, they have little exposure to the outside world and lack the contacts and opportunities to improve the quality of their lives.
In recent years there has been considerable economic progress in the basti. However, several problems associated with rapid urbanization continue to plague the residents, such as lack of sanitation, unhygienic conditions, poor water supply and congestion. The incidence of disease and substance abuse is high and there are no affordable quality health care providers in the neighborhood.
Women, in particular, are vulnerable as they observe purdah (female seclusion) and are often not allowed to step out of the basti without an escort. This socially imposed confinement makes it difficult for them to access health care, education or livelihood opportunities outside their immediate environs. Social conventions, such as early marriages and the gender division of labor continue to ensure that girls stay at home without getting an education. The men are mostly self-employed and work as tailors, carpenters, mechanics, butchers, petty shopkeepers and vegetable or fruit vendors.
The neighborhood is also home to a large number of Muslim migrants, homeless, deserted women, street children and beggars living in squatter settlements, along the city sewers, under bridges and in the parks. They have little access to health, education or income generating facilities. Most of them work in the informal sector as daily wage laborers, rag pickers, riksha drivers, maids, vegetable and fruit vendors. They are not protected by labor laws, earn below the minimum wage and work under exploitative conditions.
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