It was exactly one year ago almost to the day that a mail dropped into my inbox. My name is Willy and I am very interested in becoming involved in Project Why. I run a small NGO in America called the Omprakash Foundation. Those words were the beginning of a beautiful journey of mutual discovery, a journey were the key words were love, compassion, respect and trust.
Yesterday another mail dropped in my inbox. It simply said: check out"featured partner" on the omprakash homepage..... A click on the page and there we were: Project Why as this Season's featured partner with a special page on us that described our activities and our needs in beautiful and simple words. It was indeed some journey from email to webpage!
Over the past almost ten years I have come across wonderful people who have reached out to help us and each one of them have made pwhy possible. When Willy and his friends landed in Delhi a few months back it was truly a special moment as such kids are one of a kind. They brought with them all that makes today's world still bearable.
But let us go back a little. Before we met Willy and I use to exchange long emails and I found myself sharing my deepest thoughts with him quite unabashedly. It never came to my mind that more than 4 decades of life on this planet separated on us. He simply became the friend I needed in moments of doubts, pain and joy. He always had the right words and often gave my sagging moral the fillip it needed. Somewhere along the way he shared his dream of bringing books to the lives of children all over India and though it was in no way up our sleeve, there was not an iota in doubt in my mind when I decided to jump on the wagon and make it a success. Today over 200 000 books have found their way into the remotest part of our land and are brightening up the lives of many children. Project Why children too are busy discovering the magic of the written word. And what better proof of success of this venture than the fact that some books did surreptitiously find their way into children's homes!
As the omprakash story enfolded it was as if a remote dream of mine was coming to life albeit in a land thousands of miles from mine. I have always prayed to see the day when young Indians would be touched by compassion and would reach out to less fortunate people and share some of what they have:time, resources, love... as this is what omprakash is all about. A bunch of kids backpack through India and other lands. On the way they stop by to volunteer in a few organisations and somewhere along the way they decided to do something. And the something is for all to see!
What makes Willy, Gordon, Ashely, Lilly, Steve, Nick, Elliot tick? I do not know. Or to use a Hindi expressions: of what mater are they made. I guess the very same one we are made of. But the difference lies in their ability to see with their heart. And what does it take to make young successful people see with their heart is for me a zillion dollar question? I must confess that when I started project why one of the head fake or indirect learning (to use Randy Pausch's expression) objective was to try and sensitize young Indians and show them how to see with their hearts. Sadly it was not to be.
The journey from email to webpage has been a exhilarating and rewarding one. To the uninitiated it can be quantified by the generous resources we have received and that we are truly grateful for. But for this old lady it has been much more: a renewal of faith and trust, a validation of ideals that many found preposterous and absurd, a ray of sunshine in a sometimes grey world and much more that remains tacit.
I truly hope and pray that all the omprakash foundation reaches unknown heights and realises all the hopes and aspirations of the wonderful hearts that steer it. And I know that this will happen as more than anyone else a wonderful old man, who touched the lives of these kids many summers ago and whose name is the one they chose for their organisation, blesses them as he simply litstens to his radio in a remore part of India's capital city.