Project Why 2013

2013 has been a very special year for Project Why! A watershed year in more ways than one. For 13 years I had been guiding project why at every step. The first few years saw me present almost 24/7 with hours spent on the field and the remaining on my computer or thinking new ways even when I slept. The next years, I withdrew my daily presence which I felt was a hindrance to my senior staff who were unable to grow their own wings as they felt compelled to be the wind beneath mine. I use to go to the field every morning as I could not stay away from the children and then leave after a cup of tea and my daily fix of Good Morning Ma'am and smiles. In the first months I received umpteen calls seeking guidance and reassurance. But as time went by, the number of calls decreased both in duration and number till the time when there ware almost none. I use to to call to find out how things were and was greeted by a cheery: all well!

My task was a bit little the one of the King in the Mother Goose famous nursery rhyme: Sing a song of sixpence. Substitute 'finding' to 'counting' and you got it right. My duty was to keep the coffers full now and forever. The now bit worked, the forever sadly is still on the anvil with the iron barely warm. It was an comfortable solution that worked well for all and soon became a habit. Researchers have found that it takes 66 days for anything to become a habit. I discovered this fascinating theory a short while back. Hence we were all set in our 'habits' and comfort zones. 2013 was to be a rude awakening that would require creating new habits.

My husband who had been unwell for quite some time took a turn for the worst. The problem was that no one was able to diagnose the cause of his slow fading away. For me, the year began with innumerable visits to innumerable doctors of all kind, and even soothsayers and star gazers. With every day my worry and fears grew my quantum leaps. My presence at the project was severely truncated as most of my time was spent accompanying my husband to all hues of the medical fraternity. Every test was inconclusive or within parameters. We groped in the dark till the fateful day when the final diagnosis was made: cancer. It was a turning point for me as I knew that for some months to come, I would have to give all my attention and time to my husband.

I convened a quick meeting of my senior staff and handed them project why to run till the time I was emotionally and physically able to return. My incredible team had no hesitation in telling me that I should do what my heart dictated and not worry at all. They were true to their word and I am deeply grateful to them.

Last week I requested them to give me a quick rundown on how the year had gone and this is what I want to share with you today. Over and above the day-to-day running of the Project I was astounded to learn about the multitude of things that had been achieved during the year. It goes without saying that every child passed her/his examination and that once again we got good results in the Board exams. But that is not all.

All festivals were celebrated in each and every centre. In March, April and May our children performed a show in the Ashoka and Hyatt hotels for foreign guests. The dances were perfect as workshops had been held prior to the shows.

A group for Stanford University ran workshops with the students of all our centres in based on their SMILE (Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment) and mobile phone were donated to our children. The children are using this learning approach every week and really enjoy it.

Gender equality and adolescent issues workshops were also held in every centre and a sex education workshop was organised for the teachers.

An adult education programme for women has been set up at our women centre and is doing well.

A partnership with Vintage Rides gave our Okhla children the the opportunity to learn about Royal Enfield bikes. Selected students from Okhla school were given  mechanical classes and training in which they learnt about the construction and function of bikes. Vintage Rides has also offered internships to interested students.

A science workshop was organised in all centres as well as a magic show. This was thanks to our favourite volunteers from New Zealand Alan & Em!

A photography workshop was also held with our Govindpuri children as well as an animation workshop with some of our computer kids.

The Khader children were taught to care for plants and our special kids have their little kitchen garden.

Many in house awareness programmes were also held. The topics were water, hygiene, gender equality, pollution etc. Posters, drawing competition and essays were held in all centres.

Some outings were also organised and the children loved them.

The Okhla children painted their school for Diwali and the brave special kids painted their classes and decorated them. Awesome.

And let us not forget the lovely diyas painted by the special children!

There is much more, I am sure. What is overwhelming is the fact that the project ran without any glitch and that is the greatest gift I could have wished for.

I am so proud of my team!

Here are some pictures that will give you an idea of it all.

Ready to perform at the Ashoka Hotel

Learning all about Enfield Bikes

Alan the magician with the Khader kids

Our dancers at the Ashoka

Independence Day at Khader

Performing a play on water issues

Independence Day at Okhla

I chose not to pace 'dis' in my ability - the motto of our special kids

Munna and Umesh painting their classroom

The beautiful diyas of our special kids

Performing at the Hyatt Hotel

The creche picnic

Outing of the Govindpuri Primary to the Railway Museum

Painting their school for Diwali at Okhla

The real  project why A team
Dharmendra, Shamika, Rani and Mamaji

And very a very proud Maam'ji