Head fake or indirect learning is a expression I have learnt recently from Randy Pausch's Last Lecture. In hindsight it is something I have been using, albeit surreptitiously and perhaps sometimes even unconsciously!
Yesterday I was quietly handed over a CD with pictures of the women centre. They were snapshots of their everyday activities as well as those of the Independence day celebration they had organised. As I browsed through them I was taken aback by the vibrancy and vitality that permeated each of them. And above all I was taken aback by the number of children that smiled at me. I could not believe that a year back this centre was not even in existence.
It is true that the women centre was initially set up as a refuge for women in distress, an answer to the deafening why posed by the plight of Utpal's mom. But we could have found a tiny place and given her shelter. But that was not to be. Instead we set up the women centre which is not only a refuge for women in distress but a vibrant children centre and community outreach programme.
Herein lies the head fake.
Planet why was on the anvil as the panacea to all problems of pwhy. It looked good on paper, it looked good in words but there lay a unexpressed and unformulated doubt: would it run and survive in spite of the fact that it was miles away? The women centre is its present avatar was the much needed surreptitious testing. Would it be possible to set up and run a complex centre without constant monitoring and hand holding.
Barely 10 months from the day we found the quaint premises that houses the women centre we have a happy place where over 200 children and 50 women are busy changing their morrows. No mean task!
What is truly remarkable is that this centre grew from a few kids to this staggering number without fuss or drama. All decisions were taken in house: staff was identified and selected, time tables made, course corrections made. All crises, and they were many, solved without fuss. Today the women centre has a creche, primary and secondary support classes, tailoring and beauty courses and a weekly women's meet where a plethora of diverse issues are debated amidst laughter and cups of tea!
I have my answer and my head fake worked. Planet why will not only run and survive, but thrive. This is undoubtedly a huge moment for me personally. When pwhy began I had many dreams, and one of them was to see the local community take on responsibilities and take charge. My dream was to see my teachers and staff spearhead new activities. It has happened and somehow I know pwhy is safe.
Here are some pictures of the women centre, a centre that was set up and is run by those many of us do not trust or even bother to acknowledge, a bunch of remarkable people I am very proud of.