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Introduction

RAKESH POL, 24
RAKESH POL, 24
Occupation: Leather worker, spray painting bags and belts
Earns: About $65 (35) per month plus $11 (6) for overtime
Home: Two room tenement shared with five others
Time in slum: 24 years - has always lived in same home
Rakesh works at the leather shop seven days a week

I live with my mother, three brothers and a sister-in-law in a two room house in Koliwada, Dharavi.

I studied until ninth grade and dropped out of school soon after due to financial problems at home. My father - the sole earner - died, so I decided to take a job. I was 14 years old.

For the first few years I worked with my uncle, who manufactures leather hand gloves, and that's where I learnt the craft of colouring leather. I still go there and work sometimes when I need a little extra money.

I have been working in this private enterprise for about three years now. Officially, I am supposed to work eight hours daily but I easily put in at least 10 hours.

I don't mind the overtime because I get extra money - 30 rupees ($0.65/35p) - for every additional hour. I don't take too much leave so I end up working on all seven days.

My brothers also work but my mother and sister-in-law stay at home. With all four of us earning, we manage to pitch in for household expenses and save some money for ourselves.

I don't spend too much on myself and usually hang out with my friends in Dharavi or go to Juhu beach nearby. I rarely eat out or watch movies in cinemas.

I would like to get married by the end of the year so I am working harder and saving money for the wedding. I will probably move out of my house and take a separate room with my wife because I have no privacy in my present house.

Everyone sits, eats and sleeps together. I would like to leave and go to a better, cleaner place but I can't afford a place anywhere else in Mumbai. In Dharavi, I can get a decent room on rent for 1,000 rupees ($22/12).

I have land in my village but one earns very little money there. What I would get after a day of back-breaking work in the field is what I make here after working an hour's overtime.

Rakesh in leather shop
Rakesh in leather shop

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