For the past almost ten years now, project why has been giving what can best be called after school support to hundreds of slum children. For the past almost ten years we have basked in the glory of knowing that all our children passed their examinations and that no one dropped out. For the past almost ten years this seemed to be our mission and we were true to it. The challenge now was to see our work become sustainable and thus freed of any vagary that could hamper or even halt it midway.
Thus was born the idea of planet why, and though its primary function was undoubtedly to raise funds for our work. But that is not where it stopped as, almost intuitively and even surreptitiously, silent yet deafening whys were heard and needed to be addressed. One of them was simply: after this, what? Or in other words what would happen to our kids after they completed their schooling keeping in mind ground realities. Let me elaborate a little. It is a fact that in spite of our best efforts most of our children will never be top of the class. What must remember that they run the race with huge handicaps: a late start, a hostile environment, no support at home, no English at home, no access to extras (books, computers, internet), no positive stroking, no encouragement and much more. That they even manage to complete their. studies is nothing short of a miracle. But the question that begs to be answered is what do you do with a class XII certificate with poor marks? The answer is: not much. And the reality is that with no extra skills or learning the child is often doomed to follow the father's footsteps and become what he could have without his long school years.
Parents of such children do not have the means to give them the required added skills needed to change their lives and break the cycle in which they are caught. The long school years look like a terrible waste. This has been disturbing me for some time now and that is perhaps why planet why was conceived the way it has been: a way to take the children a step further and give them the skills they need to become productive. Hence after school they could learn an added skill: be it in the guest house (housekeeping, catering, gardening etc) or in the courses we envisage running when we have the space and infrastructure to do so: plumbing, electrical work, TV repair, mobile phone repair etc.
It is imperative that we do so and sooner than later. Otherwise the very spirit of project why is defeated.