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Meet Mumbai's homeless charity founder Brijesh Arya

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

A pop up exhibition of homeless folk art will be held and Pehchan founder Brijesh Arya will meet anyone interested in asking questions about the the homeless situation and how they are working with people there, at the Corner Hotel, Whitechapel, on Saturday 9 September from 2pm to 6pm.

This is Brijesh visiting the permanent MYLONDON exhibition at the Minet Library, Brixton earlier this week. His charity will do MYMUMBAI at the end of September.

Brijesh was a student in Mumbai when he witnessed homeless people who had difficulties living on the streets. That led to him setting up Pehchan, a charity that has helped more than 5,000 people gain important rights in the city - the homeless population of Mumbai.

Brijesh says "Pehchan is the Hindi word for "identity" which is the underlying motivation of our work - to recognise and strengthen the identity of the homeless individuals and families in Mumbai."

Pehchan helps people in the homeless communities earn money from selling dolls, key chains and bags that they have created from recycled clothing.

Pehchan helps them obtain ID cards such as Aadhaar, PAN and voter ID cards and also to open bank accounts. Brijesh says this is a step towards improving financial inclusion.

They also help with leadership training. "We help community leaders conduct advocacy at the local levels of administration."

Brijesh is visiting London as part of a research collaboration with faculty from University College London, University of Sydney and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai that examines the impact of the pandemic on homeless groups.

Guardian article about an exhibition by Pehchan in 2015. This is how we found out about Pehchan! It's also an excellent article decribing the work they do in general helpiong the street homeless of Mumbai.

If you would like to meet Brijesh and see a pop up exhibition of paintings by people who are sleeping in temporary shelters on the streets of Mumbai please join us at The Corner Hotel, Whitechapel, on Saturday 9 September.

What: A chance to meet Brijesh Arya who set up Pehchan in Mumbai. Pehchan's mission is to help people living on the streets of Mumbai to obtain ID cards and connect them with the government and also to help them gain bank accounts and other important rights.

Where: In the restaurant of The Corner Hotel, 42 Adler Street, London E1 1EE. Closest tube stations are Aldgate East and Whitechapel.

When: Saturday 9 September, 2023 2pm to 6pm.

This Is Where I Live Mumbai Folk Art pop up exhibition will be displayed

Brijesh has brought some paintings done by people living on the streets of Mumbai and we have framed 14 of them so we will be having a pop up exhibition. They will be available for purchase and can be taken away on the day.

This exhibition is a compilation of the Mumbai contribution to the This Is Where I Live international homeless exhibition, run by Cafe Art, Pehchan and several other homeless charities in 2018. This Is Where I Live was an exchange of paintings between homeless artists in London, Mumbai, Berlin, Auckland, Dar es Salaam and New York.

To prepare for This Is Where I Live, Pehchan did an art competition to choose the artwork. The art materials were given by Pehchan and the paintings were done in Tardav Community Hall near the Mumbai Central train station, Mumbai.

Above: Firoj Sheikh and Michael Kuntpa holding art sent to partner This Is Where I Live cities.

Brief artist profiles

Leena (right) is 30 years and is now a social worker working with Pehchan. She is now housed in Mumbai with her family.

Sarjen Kharya is still living on the streets of Mumbai with his mother. He is 23 years old now. He is now a university student and does odd jobs and part time work delivering to fund his education.

Rajjak Shekh Nanu lives in a homeless community in south Mumbai. He is 28 years old and works delivering food for hotels.

Michael Kuntpa (left) is now housed in a rental apartment in south Mumbai. He is a videographer in film working with the Bollywood film industry.

Firoj Sheikh (right) is 32 years old living in a homeless community in south Mumbai. He is a part time driver of a sharing taxi.

Below is a photo of the Corner Hotel, 42 Adler Street, London E1 1EE, the location of the pop up exhibition. This is the MYLONDON launch in late June.

Pehchan will be doing MYMUMBAI in late September with MYWORLD with the support of Cafe Art, Fujifilm, The RPS and St Xavier's College, Mumbai. Fifty Fujifilm QuickSnapo cameras will be distributed to five homeless communities across the city. They will have a few days to take photos of their city and it will result in an exhibition at St Xavier's College in October. We will also be printing a limited run of a 2024 MYMUMBAI calendar.

The paintings will be for sale with 50% of the sale price going to the individual artists in Mumbai and will be available to take away on the day.

To let us know you are coming on the 9th to meet Brijesh, or to find out more about MYMUMBAI email

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