Slumdog Millionaire’s Rubina Ali is hospitalized, still no homes for kids

After the destruction of the slum homes of Slumdog Millionaire child stars Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail in the past two weeks, many are starting to ask serious questions to a number of people. First, the Indian local and federal governments’ positions on slum destruction is being questioned. Secondly, the people involved with running the Jai Ho Trust (the trust set up by Slumdog Millionaire’s producers) are being questioned about why it’s taking so long to get these families an apartment, or at least some place stable to live. To make matters worse, Rubina Ali was recently hospitalized for a viral infection. After she was released, she went to her uncle’s home – the uncle that allegedly tried to sell her. Now more details are coming out about the trustees plans for these child actors – including a yearly stipend of $3000. Per family.

The search for new homes for two impoverished child stars from the hit movie “Slumdog Millionaire” has intensified, as one child fell sick days after city authorities demolished the shanty where she lived, family members said.

Nine-year-old Rubina Ali came down with a fever Friday and spent a few hours in a local hospital, they said.

“I’m fine now, but I feel tired,” Rubina said Saturday as she lay in bed, resting at her uncle’s house.

Rubina’s block was razed Wednesday to make way for a planned pedestrian overpass at a commuter train station in Mumbai. Last week, co-star Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail’s home was demolished, part of a pre-monsoon slum clearance drive.

Rubina and her parents have been staying with relatives. Azhar, 10, and his family have tied tarpaulins and blankets around a thin wood frame for shelter in the Garib Nagar – “city of the poor” – slum where both families live.

After the runaway success of their film, “Slumdog” director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson set up the Jai Ho trust to ensure the children receive proper homes, a decent education and a nest egg when they finish high school. They have also donated $747,500 to a charity to help slum children in Mumbai.

The filmmakers have agreed to raise the amount of money they will spend on new apartments for each family from $30,000 to $50,000, a Jai Ho trustee and Rubina’s father, Rafiq Qureshi, both told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Family members had worried that $30,000 would not be enough to secure decent housing in Mumbai’s pricey real estate market. In addition, the filmmakers have agreed to give each family a stipend of $130 a month and a lump sum of $3,000 a year to support the children while they are in school, the trustee and Qureshi said.

That is substantially more than any of their neighbors in Garib Nagar make, where many bring home $4 a day as auto rickshaw drivers and maids.

“We are trying our best to finalize things as soon as possible,” Jai Ho trustee Nirja Mattoo said Saturday. She said representatives of the trust took Azhar’s family to look at a few nearby apartments earlier this week.

City authorities have also promised the children and some of their neighbors new homes. The state’s top politician, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, told the Mumbai Mirror that he would expedite the process now that national elections are over.

“The elections delayed the process, but very soon we will allot them flats,” he was quoted as saying.

Slum demolitions are common in India’s cramped cities, and government promises to resettle slum-dwellers often come to nothing. Even when slum-dwellers are given housing, it is often in poor-quality buildings on the outskirts of cities, far from jobs.

[From The Huffington Post]

So, basically, it seems like everyone from the Jai Ho trustees to the Indian officials are too busy giving quotes to various media outlets to actually rent a couple of apartments for these kids. It’s all a bunch of “we’re going to do this” and “no, I said I was going to do that” and meanwhile, five months have passed and these kids are worse off than they were before. And here’s a note to the Jai Ho trustees – a $130 monthly stipend and a $3000 yearly lump sum payment may seem generous to people who live in slums, but it really isn’t that much. Even for India, where stuff is still really cheap. Everything is getting more expensive (inflation, taxes, importation) now that there’s an actual Indian middle class who are consistent consumers. Somebody, please, man up and help these kids. It’s past time.

Rubina Ali is shown watching with her family as her home is destroyed and later at the hospital, where she had to wait in the hall to be seen. She is shown being comforted by her aunt. Credit: BARM/Fame Pictures

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14 Responses to “Slumdog Millionaire’s Rubina Ali is hospitalized, still no homes for kids”

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  1. dirtyoldman says:

    Everything about this movie is jinxed.

  2. Ursula says:

    She has been making more money from another movie she has signed on and adverts. She worked with Nicole Kidman and still lives likes that. Some things just make me say WOW, Just WOW!

  3. Ophelia says:

    I’m glad you’re bringing attention to this, Kaiser. Everytime I see this on the news I feel so awful! How could these rich filmmakers not do something immediately?

  4. caribassett says:

    Those poor children.I wish there was a way to help 🙁

  5. Wow says:

    A YEARLY stipend of $3000.00???? ANd this movie made how much money and won how many Oscars?

    What fresh hell is this?

  6. Anons says:

    $3000 USD in India is nothing. At most it might allow a single person to live comfortably (i.e. pay rent, buy grocceries, have enough money to buy clothes, cover health costs, etc.) for just a few months at most. And most likely a single individual on a $3000 stipend would be living way below the middle-class standard in India. So to think that $3000 is good enough to cover combined income for an entire family for an entire year is ridiculous. How far can $130 a month go? Where can they get the money to pay rent for or even considering buying a decent house? There is no stable income for any of the family members in Rubina and Azharuddin family, so how can these kids raise themselves out of the slum lifestyle? From the Indian government to the Jai Ho trust fund, there seems to be too many empty promises here.

  7. Jag says:

    What has stopped the director and producer from taking those kids to a local hotel to live for now? What has stopped Madonna or Angelina from doing the same? Someone with some money could easily put up the family in a hotel for a while, at least until the apartment comes through!

  8. Sulakshana says:

    I’m an Indian and I have to say $3000 is A LOT of money (1.5 lakh rupees). And being in the slums, thats really a lot of money. And about India being expenses, yes…cost of living is high BUT people from the slums…what expenses do they have? As an Indian who knows the situation out there…I would say the money they ‘get’ is more than what they deserve…and i mean the Family…not those kids…that kid should get a trust fund and get the hell out of the country from those crazy parents of hers

  9. badrockandroll says:

    $3000/year, plus $130/month, plus a trust fund is a lot of money for a slum family in India. And also bureaucracy there, especially for foreigners trying to deal with banks or governments is paralyzingly mind-numbingly slow. There are precious few apartments in Mumbai (that is why they are clearing the slums, which are essentially squatters sitting on very expensive, very rare real estate). I wonder what holds the family to that city? They could get a relative palace for 30G almost anywhere else in India, and truly make a fresh start for themselves.

  10. dew says:

    Oh, and maybe if there’s any truth at all about my suspicion those kids are being used to hustle money, well if the families are barely able to pay their new bills because of the move, then wouldn’t that pretty much be the “do whatever you have to do to feed your hungry kids” scenario?

    Maybe that amount of money was fine as long as they continued to live in the squatter town, but most of us know how expensive it is to set up a new home with having to pay deposits on just about everything.

    So I’m going to try to hold back on judging them, if it turns out there’s even a little truth in that suspicion.

  11. saffron says:

    I have not yet seen the movie, but am boycotting it from here on out. I do not want to support these producers at all! They have exploited these children. It is disgusting.

    Where are the anti-child labor orgs? These kids are being so exploited by Hollywood.

  12. ChristinaT says:

    i don’t understand how things are this bad for these children and no one is doing anything? i’m seriously regretting watching this movie. while the rest of the fat cats who profitted from this movie are having their third helping of lobster, the poor kids don’t even have a tarp to live under… how could things go so awry? i just don’t get it and it’s truly saddening… i refuse to see boyle’s movies from here on…

  13. I heard that there is a under the table fee you need to pay when you want to enter some apartment complexes in mumbai. How does it work? what is the amount? any way to aviod it?

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