the special girls

They are our special girls! Champa, Anjali, Preeti, Ritika and Neha. When together they can bring the roof down! They love dancing, singing and giggling like any teenager, and like any teenager they sometimes sulk and fight.

Champa and Anjali live in our residential programme. Anjali is an orphan and Champa's mom is too old to look after this very special child. Preeti who is as bright as any of us was struck by polio at a young age and walks on her hand. Her muscles are so atrophied and would not be able to hold calipers. If inclusive education existed in India, Preeti would have been in school like other girls her age and led as normal a life as possible. Instead she is shunned by her own family who find her an impediment. During the recent festivals she was left all alone at home while her family went out to temples and fairs. Anjali walks with a limp and is a little slow, but she too could and should have been in a normal school, but that was not to be. She lost her mother a few months back and was left all alone in an unsafe environment with predators lurking. Champa is perhaps the most disabled of all. Though she can belt one Bollywood hit after the other she is unable to even dress herself. She is so childlike that anyone could lure her with a simple toffee.

What is the future of such girls. Bleak is anything. And yet when you seem them together you get touched by their zest for life and their joie de vivre. It is for these very special girls and others like them that we felt the need to go beyond our initial mission - education of children - and think of a viable alternative: a place where such young ladies could live their entire lives in a safe and enabling environment. That is how planet why first came to be conceived. A simple residential option was not sufficient. We wanted to give our girls a reason to live, a place where they would feel useful and wanted. Hence planet why the guest house!

I can imagine my girls thriving on planet why. Young Preeti has all it takes to become the manager of the guest house and Anjali could become a great housekeeper. And in spite of her shortcomings and limited skills Champa would also find her place in the show. The journey that has barely begun, promises to be exciting and we hope to be able to reach our destination in a not so distant future. So help us God!