Manisha Kamble – From living under a Flyover to Rallying for Children’s Rights at United Nations

Manisha Kamble – From living under a Flyover to Rallying for Children’s Rights at United Nations Manisha has been living under various flyovers and on footpaths for the past twelve years. Earlier, they lived in a small slum but were evicted because of a new building constructions in the city. There are no sanitation facilities near where they live. Manisha is instead forced to walk for nearly fifteen minutes to a municipal toilet, where she is charged to use it. They cannot change their clothes where they live, due to there being no form of privacy.

Manisha currently lives under a flyover at near Elphinstone Road station. They do not have a home or roof under their heads, and are exposed to huge amounts of noise, pollution, and vehicular exhaust at all hours of the day and night due to a steady stream of traffic under the flyover. The toxic gases make the eyes burn and aggravate Manisha’s allergies, causing difficulty in breathing, a severe lack of sleep, and a low immune system. This is the same reason her father passed away two years ago.

It is difficult for Manisha to study because of the noise, and the fact that her books are often taken away during Municipal Corporation raids, or lost during the floods which affect Mumbai.

Manisha has suffered from dehydration, diarrhoea, and malaria in the recent past. She was put on a saline drip for quite some time, and once had to take a long break from school due to her sickness.

Despite these challenges, Manisha has made it to her 12th standard without any drops in school, which is a testament to her dedication to education. Given her situation, making it to the 12th grade is truly an achievement. She is currently studying in the banking stream, which is not easy. Yet, she perseveres and studies as much as possible during the day, since there is no electricity in the nights.

Manisha is a leader in her community of children living on the streets. Her large portfolio of work speaks for itself, with work on Right to Food for children living on the streets to being the Manager of the CDK, a children led bank. She saves money so that she can use it for household purposes. The CDK has also helped her understanding banking further, especially as this is her chosen field of study.

She has been associated with Save the Children and Hamara Foundation (local NGO) for a few years now. She is active in her children’s group and a leader in her community, through her advocacy efforts with the Mayor of Mumbai, Ministers from leading political parties like Pankaja Munde, public figures like Dia Mirza, she has been able to represent her community at the local and national level.

Recently Manisha was a speaker at the prestigious Womenation Summit hosted by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for working women breaking the glass ceilieng and her speech was about her life and how she is breaking barriers for children living in street situations. She has also been interviewed by Dia Mirza on a live Twitter Blue Room where she said, “We need people to acknowledge us, children who live on the streets also have dreams that they want to share, they want to connect with people, and that is a chance that everyone deserves.” Manisha is an Ashoka Youth Venturer and her social work is mainly to provide access to education and food for children who live on the streets.

Platforms where Manisha has advocated for the children's issues:

  • WINGS 2018: Manisha spoke about safety of girls, bringing in the perspective of someone who lives on the street with government representatives like Pankaja Munde at the launch of WINGS 2018 by Save the Children.
  • International Street Children Day: Manisha led a delegation of children to the Mayor of Mumbai at the beginning of the project run by Save the Children on providing identity to children who live on the street.
  • Public Engagement: Manisha met with Dia Mirza, actor and artist ambassador for Save the Children in a Blue Room Session, live on twitter talking about the rights of street children.
  • Joining Forces: Manisha travelled to New York for the launch of ‘Child Rights Now: An Unfinished Agenda’ report of the Joining Forces global alliance. There she was representing India talking about her life and struggles on the street, and the importance of legal identity.
  • TEDxVersova: Manisha will be speaking at TEDxVersova this month about her life and her struggles to ensure that she has a bright future.