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  • Writer's pictureReshma Jain

The Slum Queen’s Dream of a ‘Misaal India’

Painting dreams while unleashing creativity;

Painting a luminous language while adding colours to the canvas;

Painting to light the heart and souls of people around;

here is a story that will bring to the fore the joy and exuberance of life.

It is said that try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud and if I had to equate this to someone, then it is Rouble Nagi who has been constantly adding to the canvas of lives by spreading colours of love, joy, kindness, and beauty.

Nagi, an artist at heart, decided to paint a student’s home while visiting him in the Bandra Jaffar Baba slum and invited him to participate in the project. That was a motivational exercise to urge him to do something creative. As a result, several slum dwellers approached Nagi to paint something on their house as well. This simple notion quickly grew into a big canvas that spanned from one house to the next. What started from one home went on to become a movement of sorts. This was the magic of brushes and strokes!

As Nagi points out, her journey has equally been worthwhile and challenging. To share her experiences of her childhood and the unique perspectives she developed in her growing years, Nagi has penned down a book titled ‘The Slum Queen’ which also documents her campaign ‘Missal India’. It entails the journey of a vision that Nagi has, about an India where everyone is skilled enough to earn their own bread and have their talents recognized.

Speaking on her latest book- ‘The Slum Queen’, Nagi said, “The book is an ode to all those who dream to change, to uplift the not-so-fortunate ones. It is basically talking about my experiences while working in the slums and villages in India. The book documents all facts and figures that I have experienced while implementing the ‘Misaal’ initiative throughout India.”

“Just like art is a medium of expression so is writing,” says Nagi adding, “For me, it started by documenting my work through my diary and sketches. The journey of my initiative as it transformed from ‘Misaal Mumbai’ to ‘Misaal India’ is what the book is about. There are countless stories and experiences during this journey. One small incident was how a 12-year-old became a voice for her community towards hygiene and waste segregation in her slum.”

‘Misaal Mumbai’ was a project that was designed to help residents of slums and villages live a decent life helping them to break the shackles of poverty, and get empowered by giving them skill sets that will help them support their families and live happily. The project in Bandra West consisted of the painting of over 285 houses in Jaffar Baba Colony, Mount Mary, Bandra West. Nagi was instrumental in slowly transforming the city's slums into giant works of art.

As an artist, Nagi says, “I think, conceive, and create by using art as a medium. I have faith that India will be slum free one day and everyone living in such poor conditions will get a roof over their heads, food, and education. We have been making progress every year and hopefully a day not far from now, we will be a slum-free country with a 100% literacy rate and no one below the poverty line.”

“We are currently working on creating think tanks in rural villages, starting from Kashmir valley. In Rajasthan, we will be starting a small hospital in a hamlet around the Alwar district. Change is possible if you dream the impossible dream, and follow through with action,” concluded Nagi, the Slum Queen.

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