Nieck has been our first-ever intern with Reality Tours & Travel. Despite some serious health issues he managed to interview 74 Dharavi residents about their perception of slum tours in their communities. His thesis will still take some more months so we will need to wait for an overview of his results. But he has been so kind to write about his personal experience for our blog:
Back in the Netherlands as I transcribe interviews and read through all of the information I have gathered, it makes me think a lot about what I have experienced. With help of three fantastic guides, I was able to have a very personal conversation with the people of Dharavi. Their stories have touched me, surprised me and have also caused me to reflect upon our own safe, comfortable and judgmental Western lives.
My research had to do with how the Dharavi community members feel about the tourists that Reality Tours Travel brings into their community. After carring out in-depth interviews with 74 Dharavi community members, I can confidently say that many are happy to see tourists. A lot of interviewees have summed this up in saying, “They have come from so far to see how we work and live. I’m happy for that”. On the other hand, the reality is that these people are too busy with their work and daily routine to be too concerned about our intentions. I’ve come to realise that as long as Reality operates its business with good intentions and the tourists respect their culture and the living condition of the people, it seems, according to those I interviewed, to be perfectly acceptable for the community.
Quite a few interviewees mentioned that “I think the company should help the community more”. After telling them about the company’s relationship with Reality Gives, literally all interviewees showed nothing but respect and gratefulness for the organisation’s intentions and efforts. I would recommend the Reality Group to distinguish themselves more by promoting their efforts more within the community, as many respondents were unaware of the organisation’s initiatives.
I firmly believe in the positive effects Reality Tours Travel and Reality Gives can have on this community and so I wish them all the best with their future efforts. They are the perfect example that tourism can also leave a positive footprint and I was happy to be a part of that during my five months in Mumbai.
Thank you Nieck for your hard work and great input. We will miss you here in Mumbai!