A single day is enough

A single day is enough to make us a little larger or, another time, a little smaller said Paul Klee. We must be blessed as each day at pwhy make us feel more than a little larger though we sometimes do not take time to realise this. I often get emails reminding me that I have not shared the day-to-day happenings of project why and I must admit I stand guilty.

The past months have been hectic in more ways than one and somehow one simply forgot to pause and savour the incredible satisfaction that comes from just watching the on goings of a day at project why. Today let us do just that

Come 8.30 am and pwhy is already buzzing with activity. It is the time when staff drops by the tiny office perched on the second floor of our little building. Time to sign the attendance register and say a quick hello before rushing to the workplace. For some it is simply a few steps away, for others a walk or even a bus ride. It is immensely satisfying to watch our little team take off with confidence and purpose and to remember that once not so long go most of them were barely surviving. These days are a tad special as we have lots of volunteers, each assigned to various posts and thus each teacher also takes his or her volunteer along. Another occasion to give one a pat on the back as one sees people that nothing links together - neither land, nor language- walk off together often deep in conversation. I would give a hand and a foot to be privy to those instants.

While all this is going on the shrill horn of the first three wheeler bringing the children is heard. It is the merry band of the special section that has arrived. Its is heartwarming to watch them as they scuttle out of the tiny vehicle, each one helping the other. Soon the room on the ground floor is buzzing with activity as bags are kept away and mats set out for the first activity of the morning: exercises. Very often the children of the special section launch their day themselves as their routine is well set and they are a very independent lot.

A wail is heard on the first floor heralding the arrival of some tiny tot in the creche. It is amusing to see some kids insisting on crying their hearts out as they are parted form their parent not matter how long they have been attending the creche. Needless to say that the wail turns into a huge giggle moments later as they find their friends and toys. The next hour or so sees the same pattern as kids keep arriving. Soon the second three wheeler reaches and over twenty toddlers spill out of the small vehicle. It is always a delight to watch them as they patiently wait for their bags or for the lost shoe! Some time later the air is filed with song as the little ones settle to their morning routine.

Across the street in the two tiny rooms we have hired the older toddlers begin their day too. Their little desks and chairs are laid out and they soon are busy pencil in hand and tongues poking mastering the letter of the day. In the room next door the boys of the junior secondary have also arrived and are intently following the subject of the day.

At some distance the three primary centres of Okhla, Govinpuri and Sanjay Colony have also begun their activities each following a well set routine under the guidance of their set of teachers. And still further away the creche and primary and secondary classes of the women centre are also underway as are the secondary classes and the computer centre. Morning has begun at project why.

All this may seem terribly unremarkable and one could wonder why one is making such a fuss about it. I agree that at first sight there is nothing extraordinary about a bunch of teachers teaching a bunch of kids. But here again I ask you to see with your hart and not your eyes. Most of the kids you see be it in the special section, or in the creche or even in other classes are not your regular kid next door. They come from extremely deprived backgrounds and for them pwhy is a haven in more ways than one. It is perhaps the only space where for a few hours they can be just children.

For the older children pwhy is the place where they can actually learn all that is left untaught in school and thus aspire to make it to the next class and then the next and thus one day be able to get the much needed school leaving certificate and maybe aspire to a life a tad better than the one lived by their parents.

And thus as a seemingly commonplace day goes by, lives are being slowly and quietly transformed.