Slum Survivor Events

From time to time TEAR runs Slum Survivor events at various locations. 
Currently there are no Slum Survivor events scheduled.

Slum Survivor is a simulation experience designed to:

  • help people get a taste of what life might be like in a slum
  • reflect on God's concern for the poor
  • start thinking about how they can respond.
Slum Survivor Events

Overcoming poverty is not a gestre of charity but an act of justice. Nelson Mandela

Participants will arrive and have to build their own slum house which will be home for the entire weekend. All meals, sleeping and challenges will take place at the slum along with workshops and daily devotions. Sounds easy?

Participants will split into families and each family needs to support itself. They will need to work hard making paper bags to sell which will hopefully supply them with enough money to buy some lentils and rice for a twice a day meal. Along with making paper bags there wll be several challenges throughout the weekend designed to simulate some of the choices and conditions faced by those who live in slums. These challenges are sometimes physical and hard work, but your family may be rewarded with extra bedding or other luxury items.

It's a tough time - participants will be tired, hungry and smelly! It's a great way to get a small glimpse of what life is like for 1 billion people around the world. It is also a chance for us to engage the wider community attending the festival in a very visual and impacting way.

If you have any questions please contact Matt Anslow at

Reflections from Past Participants

Ree (Slum Survivor 07)

“My friends and I have often thought about going on Slum Survivor but it never worked out. This is my first year of working (teaching Kindy) so it has been pretty busy. If there was any year that it wasn’t going to happen I guess I thought it’d be this one! But God works in mysterious ways! Intentionally being a part of a make believe slum was a great way to do Blackstump. It gave a different view on things. Here’s how:

I’m used to hiking, so I didn’t think that the ‘living conditions’ would be too different to what I was used to. I also have this reputation of sleeping through anything. But…I have to admit that the night times…when the wind was blowing…it was pretty cold. I felt a little bit chilly even with a sleeping bag. Not feeling comfortable was very good, because it drew the attention away from the fun of the days to a taste of reality. Life in the slums is not comfortable.

There seemed to be a strong theme through lots of the Blackstump festival on poverty. The humble way that the TEAR guys talked about God and our response to poverty as well as what others were saying was excellent. I came away challenged to ‘live as Jesus does”. I guess I already knew this, but to live it every day…that’s a challenge. “He must become greater, I must become less”-John 3.30.

I was really encouraged by the way that all the other slum people seemed to put others first. I think it was because of this that we all worked well as a team. They were so good value, and made the experience really fun. It was a real blessing. (Thanks guys!)”

Reflections from Past Participants

Weillin (slum Survivor 07)

“Black Stump ‘07 saw eight ordinary people like you and me ’slum it up’ in Slum Survivor, a simulation exercise run by TEAR that offers a glimpse of how one sixth (one billion) of our global neighbours do life everyday (in slums), and how Jesus calls us to respond to them as our global neighbours. I can say that these people were ‘ordinary just like you and me’, because I was one of them!

On the surface, my slum experience was not much different to a camping trip – eating and cooking simple meals on a portable stove, sleeping outdoors at the mercy of the elements, and doing washing from a bucket – pretty fun at times! Yet looking deeper, we had the opportunity to build and live in our own slum village (using wooden pallets, cardboard and tarpaulin); make and sell paper bags so that we could afford to cook and eat two meals of rice and dhal each day and nothing else; do challenges that reflected real life situations in slum communities ( e.g. constructing a stretch of road that was destroyed by ‘floods’ by hammering rocks into rubble; having to choose between ’safe’ and ‘poisonous’ lollies when you are illiterate) – and all the while being cheated and oppressed by our ’slum lords’!

While some real clinchers of an actual slum such as the sickness, the smells and the true desperation to survive each day were missing (not to mention the uncertainty of when this way of life would come to an end), we still had a small taste of slum life: what it felt like to go to bed hungry, to expend the little energy you have in the hope of gaining something only to be met with loss, disappointment and fatigue; and ultimately, the vulnerable, voiceless position that not being educated about your rights puts you in. We even heard eye-witness stories about real slums, where I learnt that despite the despair, slums are also places of much vibrancy, creativity, hospitality and hope. Peoples’ determination to survive despite the circumstances as well as the sincerity expressed by families to share what little they had challenged me about really trusting and delighting in the Lord to deliver when it seemed like there was ’so little to live for’ – but how wrong is that!

Slum Survivor reminded me that our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions (Luke 12:15) but rather, the riches found in a genuine relationship with God. It definitely helped me to identify more with the world’s poor than I did before. Finally, it reinforced in me the life-giving joys that come out of living a simpler lifestyle, which prioritises relationships and social change over greed by responding to the powerless of our world with justice, humility and compassion just as Jesus did.”

Reflections from Past Participants

The hand made slum that was home for a weekend.

Run Your Own Slum Survivor

You could run your own slum simulation experience, in your chuch car park, school playground or other places where you want to give people a glimpse of what life is like for millions of people around the world.

The Slum Survivor simulation game kit has everything you need to run Slum Survivor, including real life stories and images from slums, information about TEAR Australia partners working with communities in poor urban neighbourhoods, and practical ways to respond to the needs of the urban poor.

Download the Slum Survivor simulation game kit.

Slum Facts

How many ways can you say slums?

  • Favelas (Brazil)
  • Barrios (Venezuala)
  • Ghettos (USA)
  • Gers (Mongolia)
  • Bastis / Bustees (India)
  • Kampungs (Indonesia)
  • Tugurios (Latin America)
  • Katchi Abadis (Pakistan)
  • Intra-muros (Morocco)
  • Gegi Condu (Turkey)
  • Bidonvilles (Burkina Faso)
  • Shantytowns (South Africa)
  • Squatter settlements (Global)

What are they?

Slums are overcrowded, poor suburbs and settlements with limited access to water, sanitation, sewerage, electricity and services such as clinics, schools, police and fire stations. (In irregular slums in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific, only 7% of households have connections to sewerage systems. Only 3% of households of slums in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to telephones. Only 20% have access to piped water connections and only 40% have drinkable water within 200 metres of the household.)

One billion people (or 1/6th of humanity) currently live in slums and the UN reckons that by 2030, 2 billion people will live in slums.

Slum Facts

This is reality for over 1 billion people that have to survive in the growing slums in many of the world’s cities.

Location, location, location

Many slums are bulldozed to make way for regular settlements or other development. Because many slum dwellers don't have the legal right to occupy the land they live on, there's nothing they can do except move and start again.

Most slum dwellers pay rent. Rents are often higher per square metre than for regular accommodation, and the rents take up more of people's income.

The largest slum in the world is Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya.

Over 80,000 people make their homes on ‘Smoky Mountain’, Manila's largest garbage dump (in the Philippines). Smoky Mountain gets its name from the constant smoke and fumes from burning garbage. Most people work here as scavengers and scrap sorters.

It's not all doom and gloom

Slums have been a vibrant birthplace for new musical and artistic expression and have given the world: jazz, blues, rock and roll, reggae, funk, rap, hiphop, fado and flamenco.

Nigerian Afro-punk pioneer, Fela Kuti, comes from an urban slum background.

The recent award-winning film from Brazilian film-maker Fernando Mereilles, City of God, is set in a slum.

Discover more

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About TEAR

TEAR Australia is a Christian development, relief and advocacy organisation responding to global poverty and injustice. More >

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