My Field Notes

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Meeting at Mumbai Mobile Creches, 1st floor Abbas Building, Mereweather Rd, Colaba 4000001

Ph: 02222020869

Director Vrishali Pispati, Board member Devika Mahadevan (Friend of Julie S-B)

There are three Mobil Creche organizations in India. The one in Delhi was the original founded by in 1969. Meera Mahadevan was inspired by the women who were building a centenary monument to Gandhi and at the irony that the women building the monument were excluded from it. She wanted to create a safe place for the children. She was joined by co-founder, Devika Singh. Devika Mahadevan’s grandmother was a founder of the Mumbai chapter (1972) and a third, Tara Mobile Creches, was begun in Pune (1980). They continue to be “sister organizations” but each became independent about 10 years ago.

Davika Singh and the Delhi centre are more focused on policy being in the government Centre. Bombay is more grassroots. Has branched out in last 10 years to train the women to become teachers in the centers. Today, 60% of the teachers come from the sites. Initiatives need to be non-threatening or they will get thrown off the sites by the builders. Have provided financial training, help get bank cards and id cards. Are working with other groups on migration issues.

Their core competency is the children.

There are fewer women and more men on sites in Bombay. In Bombay there is less and less space and more work is mechanical. The child care centers need 25-30 children to be cost effective. On smaller sites, they do ‘mobile mobile creches” on wheels and work with builders to set up their own programs, termed Facilitation Centers.

They are on 25-30 sites at any one time. The estimate of children on sites is 40-50,000 and they reach 5-6000 a year.

They are seeing the small sites—large projects but small footprints—have more bachelors. No room to house the families.

Families live on the sites, are born on the sites. This is the norm. They have teachers who were born on sites!

The Tata Trust on Migrancy. Check it out.

The Laws

Building and Construction Act of 1996 mandated 1% of builders cost “to be used for the benefit of the workers.” Paid by builders, held by government, not being used.

Something is happening in the last 2 years but I did not catch it.

There are 16 different welfare schemes from the government. Enacted nationally. Implementation is by state and not done.

I need to go to Pune. Maybe March.

Why are builders interested? They are not.

But in Pune, the PMC (Municipal Corporation) and builders lobby (CREDAI) are very supportive. They have 80-100 kids on sites and builders are taking on sanitation and clean up. Sites can leave materials out without fear of rodents.

DoorStep is another program. Does education in Mumbai but not on construction sites.

MMC challenges

  • Entry barriers in construction. They serve birth to age 14. Takes a lot of reseources. Funders want outcomes. How do you measure the outcomes for infants. But need to have the babies or kids will not come to school. Will instead take care of younger ones.
  • 60% of Mumbai is in slums. Few entry barriers for NGOs that can provide services that easily count outcomes.
  • Education without childcare 1:25 teacher/student ratio. With childcare MMC 1:5 ratio.
  • Rs 10,000 salary for a teacher. (Month?)
  • Challenge of builder resistance.
  • Terrain of Mumbai north/south: Today on 22 sites. When a site closes staff has to “domino” to the next site, and the next site… Otherwise staff will have 2 hour commutes.

Funding: 20% from builders; 80% private funding, India and international

The Indian industry

Subs (petty contractors) not contracted on skills but on workforce. Not necessarily large workforces. Smaller crews of “petty” contractors protect against workers leaving the site. Many small contractors is the norm. They are seeing increase in mechanization and use of Project Managers.

Check out LabourNet in Bangalore. Training for women in skilled trades?

8/22/15  What will happen to India’s women construction workers as the same multi-national developers and contractors that exclude women from trades work in western economies increasingly enter the Indian market?

SEWA “In Afghanistan, SEWA set up a vocational training center in 2006 and trained 1,040 local women in informal trades including electricity… ” From Agarwala,


March 23, 2016

Met with Tara Mobile Creches of Pune

Joined by Shraddha Borawake

Shruti Purandare, Manager (Programs)

From the Tara Mobile Creches Pune website

TMCPP Vision
• Our focus is the child.
• Our vision is to promote child-friendly sites whereby every child living on a construction site is safe, healthy, educated and has a happy childhood.

After giving Shruti an overview of the history and goals of my project in India, she described the work of TMCP.

They have 18 centres on construction sites at the present time. Some are long term (up to 10 years), some smaller sites are 2,3,4 years. The size of the site determines the number of children they serve. Larger sites can have 200-400 families.

They are seeing a trend toward more “bachelor” workers. These might be unmarried but also might have left family back home.

Some families do not stay on sites but are transported on a daily basis. Then the goal is to have the creche close to the community where the workers live.

Builders may employ a local woman to provide custodial care (low level legal compliance) but there will be no education or facilities. Some just claim they do it and don’t comply.

TMCP insists on proper space, facilities, safe learning environment, playground, and three meals a day.

Space is determined by the number of children served. The largest creche has 200 children and the smallest 20-30.

Some mothers are not working but do bring the children to the creche.

Soon they are beginning to train caregivers—mothers and grandmothers—in parenting skills. This is a 3-4 month pilot program in child development.

Teachers are from the local community, not highly educated and from disadvantaged soc-ec backgrounds. Trained by TMCP?

Since 2008 they have been developing child participation programs—panchayats for children older than 8. Teaching child rights. Staff has been learning to facilitate and listen to children. Has been a change!

Funding: they receive some funds under central schemes (SSWB, Rahul Gandhi) and the builders pay per child.

There is a trend in Pune of construction bankruptcies and flats not selling. Then the builders see the creches as a financial burden. But some have experienced the benefits and initiate getting creches on their new sites. They do have repeat builders.

Other NGOs have shorter-term goals or are focused exclusively on education. TMCP has a holistic child approach and four verticals:

  • Health
  • Nutrition
  • Education
  • Recreation

They do partner/collaborate with other NGOs i.e Door Step

We discussed the mobility of the women and the children. TMCP has no control. They are experimenting with tracking but there are many barriers. Some engineers and contractors are aware of the program and will inform TMCP if families are moving. But they may return to their hometown and then cannot be tracked.

Amazing story of some of the children who are continuing their education. Some of the children (over 80) have been enrolled in residential schools. This is supported by CSR funds. There is a selection process and then the parents need to be convinced. Many say no but it helps if they know someone whose child has continued at a school.

A story of a 14 year old who was removed from a hostel by parents and taken to the village to be married. She called TMCP and, with the help of grandparents and police, was “rescued” and returned to school. She had been involve in the Panchayat and knew her rights.

They are seeing a trend in families supporting girls continuing and this year there are more girls than boys entering the schools!!

What is their impact?

About 1100 children in the creches. Probably about 5% of children on construction sites in Pune. Maybe more.

Who are the women?

Migrants but many have moved into housing in “slum” areas. These workers will be at the nakas (men and women). But now it is harder to find room in a permanent settlement. Then families will go back home or to another construction site.

Some builders are working to make the CWB work. Maybe driven by foreign investment that is expecting higher standards and may have contracts that require worker benefits. Now only a handful of workers are registered. And their ration cards are from their home villages. None have local IDs.


In the past there were equal numbers of men and women. Now women are home, doing other unskilled work, domestic work, babysitting. When site is near completion and beginning to be occupied, some women will get jobs in the building as domestic workers or caring for children.

This is some of the motivation for the child development and parenting training—occupational skill also. Most of the women are illiterate and the training will use pictorial and other methods.

They do community awareness programs, one-on-one and groups. On the girl child, alcoholism. Would like to have counseling sites at the community level.

CREDI might be involved in the Satkarma Foundation promoting access to education.



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