Homo Ludens in Korail slum, Bangladesh

In the center of Dhaka, there is Korail: the Bengali capital’s largest and longest-standing informal settlement of between 40.000 and 100.000 poor people who came to occupy the brackish ground more than 20 years ago. They work in the nearby center of Dhaka as rickshaw driver, vendor, garbage worker etc. And like all of us, they like to play and enjoy life. Like the kyte players in the movie.

This state owned slum near the lake then still was on the periphery of the city. Now, their settlement is right in the middle of Dhaka, at the edge of the Gulshan and Banani areas, where some of the country’s wealthiest families live.

This once peripheral land is now worth a fortune, since Dhaka is currently one of the fastest growing and most densely populated cities in the world. Which explains why, just a couple of days after our visit, on the 4th of April, police started to “clean” the slum. The authorities say the police has already removed around 2,000 houses and shops, and reclaimed 170 acres of public land. It’s said that one child died, and hundreds of families are homeless. The government didn’t foresee any help or relocation.

(text, picture and video by Veerle Devos)

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