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Photographic statements from a Mumbai slum


Apnalaya is a Mumbai based non government organisation that works with slum dwellers. It was founded in 1972 by former Australian High Commissioner to Mumbai, Tom Holland. The photographer Ian Woolverton has won two humanitarian awards. He is adept at generating public and political debate by using words and images to craft pithy and powerful opinion pieces. Recently he created a photo essay for Apnalaya. (Click on images for large version.)


Mumbai 83

Mumbai 59

Mumbai 63

Mumbai 7

Mumbai 19

Mumbai 22

Mumbai 76

Mumbai 88

Mumbai 91

Mumbai 93

Mumbai 11

Mumbai 78

Mumbai slum dwellers — long photo essay
Ian Woolverton's gallery

Ian WoolvertonIan Woolverton is a British, Melbourne-based writer and photographer who has devoted his working life to not-for-profit organisations, including International Red Cross and Oxfam. He covered the Bali bombings in 2002, the 2004 Asian tsunami in Aceh and the Pakistan earthquake in 2005.



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Existing comments

I have been to Moobai, stayed with Dominican sisters in slums just as bad as those pictured. The sisters were outraged as the slumdwellere were being evicted so that a new super highway could be built to the airport. No efforts were being made to relocate the people who had so little. It is a sad indictment on us that these places still exist.

Fr Nick Punch O.P. | 09 April 2008  

Many thanks for such a beautifully chosen photo essay. In the richness of our land and our community one tends to forget. Thank you again.

helen m donnellan | 09 April 2008  

Thanks for the link to the longer version of the photo essay. It shows the dignity, resourcefulness and joy of the people as well as their very substantial difficulties.

It reminded me of staying in the homes of colleagues in slums and non formal housing in Mumbai when I coordinated the Asian Centre for the Progress of Peoples.

Sandie Cornish | 09 April 2008  

Poverty, Clothes and Population

Mumbai in 1950 had a population of 2.9 million. By 2004 it was 19 million – catching up with the total population of Australia.

A remarkable change in the world since I was a child in the 1930s is how the old Geographic magazines of the time showed poverty – from famine-faced coolies in rags to Depression tramps with split boots and tattered trousers. Now across the world, even the most primitive tribes are wearing clean-looking T-shirts, and bright cotton is clothing the refugees who live in appalling deserts or rubbish dumps.

This at least is a remarkable achievement. But for how long? Even this may not last.

Even clean water, cheap food and fertile land is becoming in shorter supply as India’s population rockets from 369 million in 1950 to a 1,000 million only 50 years later and is heading to add another 600 million by 2050.

Mumbai’s slums are growing bigger and bigger, not getting smaller.

See Mike Davis’ Planet of the Slums (2006) and think what compassion, what theology, can possibly achieve, beyond being horrified and donating to short-term relief organisations.

What censorship prevents open discussion of what humanely can possibly be done?

valerie yule | 10 April 2008  

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