The Hope Project was formed in 1975 by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. It initially began as a „milk distribution program“ for pregnant women, lactating mothers & malnourished children living in the open park & monuments located at Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin, an urban slum of Delhi. The focus was primarily on homeless migrant families from poorer Indian states namely Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh & Maharashtra. An allopath and a homeopath served the people with essential medical consultation, treatment and referral services. Children were taught in two small classrooms. Inadequate infrastructure and poor equipment restricted the smooth operation of Hope Project initially.
The advancement in our work happened through a substantial donation of an inheritance at the end of the millennium. A building was raised on the land for school and medical centre which eventually made the expansion of the educational and medical program possible. Vocational training and various other programs especially for the support of women were started subsequently. In addition, an initiative of “self-help groups” was taken- as a way of organizing women into small groups, so they may themselves save funds and provide small loans independently to each other making them empowered. The core intention of the Hope Project is to provide „help for self-help“ to people so that they can develop their hidden potential and thus become contributing members of society. This is not only about financial support, but also about awakening and having confidence in one’s own abilities.
The Hope Project is located at Nizamuddin Basti in the district of South Delhi. Basti describes an urban village. This area commemorates the Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. He lived and died here, and in the vicinity of his shrine which is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Northern India, a small village was built in the 13th century. Nizamuddin Basti is still like a medieval village in the middle of the metropolis and attracts thousands of pilgrims every year.
From the time immemorial, the majority of the inhabitants has been Muslim, but small population of Christians, Hindus and Sikhs have also lived here. The place reflects the social structure of India. Everyday life, family structure and, above all, the role of women are still strongly impacted by traditions and religious influences. While the Sufi references rooted in the district present an orientation towards a tolerant coexistence, there are also fundamentalist influences from outside. In this respect, we also see our interreligious and ethical work as a contribution to conflict prevention and peace-making.
In the early years of our functioning, the Hope Project was surrounded by slum huts of migrant families. There was extreme poverty prevailed in the area and a high rate of unemployment, drug abuse and prostitution made the scenario worse. The policy of making India slum-free means that this part of Nizamuddin Basti’s population has been „forcibly resettled“ to the periphery of Delhi because visible poverty disrupts the development of tourism and the self-image of modern India. The Hope Project followed this community as its beneficiary. Later on, with the motive of expanding the services to other backward areas, The Hope Project started a minibus with medical equipment (Mobile Medical Unit), which drives to the areas in Trans-Yamuna. In addition to Mobile Medical Unit, it has also replicated some of the project’s programmes (basic education, tutoring, small loans, vocational education such as beauty care and textile processing, information campaigns on family planning, health care and much more) in these areas of Trans-Yamuna. Through this diversification, the Hope Project have successfully reached to many more disadvantaged people.
Today, The Hope project brings into play more than 60 employees. Most of them hail from Nizamuddin Basti and have been trained for their tasks. But lots of our employees have professional training as teachers, doctors, social workers and hold other relevant degrees from recognized universities.