There are only two ways to live your life..

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There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. (Albert Einstein)

It took me a long time to decide what the post on the last day of 2005 would be, and then I came across this quote that said it all..

On planet why we live life the later way. We have had our share of miracles , big and small, in 2005. So many that I feel overwhelmed: when the tsunami hit our coasts, pwhy kids did the imposible and collected 60 000 rs and bought a small kuppam (fisherman’s village) a fibreglass boat that sails every day bearing the name project why on its hull; Arun got a new heart, the started walking, the children brought us a 100% results

The internet wove its magic and friends appreared from the world over: a raffle was organised in the US, a short story competition took place in the UK, and each time we were in need, invisible angels appeared and pulled us through..

And there is more, Babli’s operation is on the anvil as we have the required funds, and little Nanhe will also be operated upon and have a painfree existence..

The adoption plan we put up is slowly fall in in place and we know that it will happen sooner than later, as so many friends have put us on their sites and blog pages

There were difficult moments… when we discovered Munna’s little family but one phone call later and another angel did the job.. Munna’s family will have a warm new year and take its first steps towards better times…

We had a party hosted by a lady just 8 months old, and a wedding so different from the ones we see.. we even made it to newspapers and had our moment in the sun!

As I write these words I am overwhelmed by the abundance of gifts recieved and somewhat humbled …

To all those who made this possible I would like simply to say: thank you!

munna’s family or life in a thousand rupees

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Many of us will sit down tomorrow night to usher 2006. There will be lights, and warmth and food and music.. no matter how chilly the night.

In the same city Munna’s little family will sit in the dark, the only light being that of an oil lamp… Munna is 9 and suffers from mental retardation. He has been at project why for a few weeks. He has three younger siblings and brave parents who came to the city, floods having washed away the little land they had. the father earns the princely sum of 1000/rs, and the family lives on that.

The little family juggles with the sum to make both ends meet, so they have decided not to get an electric connection, and when vicky 3 and shakuntala 1 are hungry, the mother breastfeeds them.. Sapna goes to school, and Munna and Vicky come to pwhy. The children have barely any warn clothes, and the mother has none. Despite his limited capacities, Munna is very much the elder brother and in his own endearing way watches over little Vicky and helps his mother as best he can.

We were moved by the quiet dignity we saw in the face of such adversity. There were no complaints, no soliciting for help, on the contrary when ve visited them, we were offered food and tea.. the rules of hospitality were impeccable.

As we left munna’s home many questions came to our mind: how did anyone live in a thousand rupees? How could any employer give a thousand rupees for a day’s work – Munna’s father beats iron for a living -? and above all how could we help them …

how many times must nanhe…

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The picture shows Nanhe on his nth visit to the hospital. It is no mean task for a child who cannot walk, is incontinent, is in pain and never complains.

For the past two months come monday and the trio of Nanhe, his mom and Meena our staffer, sets off in the cold or rain to the hospital located a few kilometers away. In the afternoon the trio comes back, and whereas the adults frown or complain, Nanhe smiles on.. the scenario is repeated the next friday and so on. Sometimes another test is needed, sometimes an xray has to be redone.. and the date for the much needed surgery to put an end to the excruciating pain of one suffering from multiple calculi seems as elusive as the scarlet pimpernel.

No I should not be complaining. A recent press report revealed that the waiting time for surgery in India’s capital city’s only state hospital for children was four years resulting in parents having to find resources to take their children to private hospitals, here it has only been two months.

Nanhe needs another test that cannot be done in Safdarjung Hopsital. The doctor scribbled a referral on his green card, and the trio set out to AIIMS but to our utter horror no one could figure out what was written. By the time they had finished their rounds in search of information, poor nanhe in tow, public dealing time was up. Come again tomorrow..

Enough is enough, today a senior staffer will go to the hospital and find out the exact name of all the tests required and the name of a private lab that the hospital endorses and we will get all the tests done.

But that is not the answer because every hurting child does not have a pwhy like support. Parents have meagre resources that soon dry out. In a case like Nanhe who cannot travel by bus, each trip is costly and then even caring parents give up on a child who is not even an investment in ones’ future: remember nanhe is severly retarded..

But does one give up on a smile like nanhe’s…

they put their dancing shoes on..

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It was party time on planet why thanks to a little girl who lives far away in England. Dhanya had decided to give a very special gift to pwhy a xmas party.

We had two parties one for the big kids with DJ and coffee machine and one for the tiny tots and special kids. The common denominator: everyone had their dancing shoes on..

They danced with abandon and grace. There were the little ones and the big ones, the lohars, the special kids, the guests and the staff. It was touching to see that everyone no matter how little they had, no matter how tiny and dark their home, everyone had made the effort to be beautiful. You could see the younger girls with hurriedly applied make up, the high heels that made one wobble a little, the bright coloured shirts the boys doned with new found confidence, the hair pasted with gel in the latest style.

As the DJ belted out favourites, squeals of joy could be heard as the dance floor filled with would be stars trying to match the steps seen on the ever present TV screen. The energy was palpable, the mood upbeat and the party a success.

Even the little ones the next day, some not quite three, took to the floor with the same aplomb. And everyone, big or small enjoyed the food. But the proverbial clock would strike midnight and the party had to end before the magic weared out. The coachmen of the night – radhey, tuntun and sitaram – were there to see everyone safely home.

What was truly remarkable was the impeccable behavior of these often misunderstood children. No food was wasted, no fight occured, no one was teased or laughed at and to my utter surprise nothing littered the floor after everyone had left. Every plate, cup and napkin had been placed in the right bins..

A lesson for all…

have I really lost… the right to love

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I was extremely saddened and somewhat angry to read this post.
I could feel the palpable angst that permeated each word.. as this lovely child of India questioned her very being..

No child, no one can take away from you the right to love and care for your country whether you wake up in it every morning or miles away in another land, that right is indubitably yours.. what is sad is that many of those who question it with such vehemence are the very ones who have forgotten how to love their land..

No one can stop you from commenting on its faults or praising its achievements as long as your person enough to accept responsibility for what it has become and do what you think is right to change things..

I speak from experience as in the past year I have seen that it is people like you who have come forward to help us make a difference, people whose hearts beats for India even if they are miles away..whereas those who breathe its air, enjoy its resources, live on the fruits of the toil of its humble people have lost the ability to care for it..

You need prove nothing… your words say it all!

to the rescue of lady B

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Imagine my utter surprise whenI saw my band of galahads march in this morning almost dragging a sullen looking fellow, their captive of the day. I was sson to learn that it was Ramu,
bablis’ famous brother!

They wanted me talk to him and make him understand that he was not to bully his sister.. or beat up or make her do his work.. they were all talking at the same time, but I got the general idea..

Ramu stood sullen anbd I knew I had to play my cards right. He of course denied everything. He was after all a child of urban India slums, where children are always chided and abused and left no alternative but to repeat the pattern with someone younger; where boys are taught to believe that they are of superior mettle and girls inferior.. butI also knew that this young man had had the courage to come and face me..

Babli of course nodded her little head vigourously when asked whether big brother beat her. Now the stage was mine.. I took Ramu’s hand and gently explained to him what having a hole in a heart meant, and then telling him that being a big brother was a privilege and that he was responsible for his two sisters and that I knew that he would care for Babli. Ramu’s hand was still in mine and I felt an almost imperceptible squeeze. I realised that maybe it was the very fisrt time that an adult had spoken kindly to Ramu.

Now it was time to lighten the atmosphere so I asked Ramu what was his dream.. and he whispered – cricketeer – !

We then made a pact that if he would promise to look after Babli then I would see about organising cricket coaching for all pwhy boys. the pact was sealed with a high five and laughter.

It was then phototime and though Babli was all smiles, Ramu still had to play the role of the sullen brother though I think he was smiling inside. My knights in shining armour stood around with huge grins on their face.

Well done boys!

galahads of planet why

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The previous post was about the plight of girls and the unfair treatment they get even in as small an issue as shoes!

The immediate reaction that one has is: why not buy them shoes.. but how many can you buy was my asnwer to a friend who wrote in.. the solution lies in changing age-old mindsets.. impossible would say my detractors.. well not quite..

Many of you know about Babli who needs heart surgery and will soon get her well deserved new ticker.. but I was thrilled today, when my primary boys, some of whom live in the same area as Babli, came to me all excited and told me how they had defended Babli and even slapped her elder brother..

I calm them down and asked them to tell me what happened. Apparently Babli’s older brother Ramu excpets his sister to fecth and carry for him and often ill treats and even beats her. Now my little knights in shining armour took up her defense and tried to explain to Ramu that Babli’s health was fragile and that she had to be cared for.. when he carried on abusing her they slapped him and told him that they wold be watching him..

Maybe the methods used by Raju and the gang was not quite what one would condone, I must confess that I was quite thrilled, and though I mouthed the required reprimand, my eyes were filled with pride…

winter woes

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This is not a summer footwear display… but the neatly lined up shoes of our primary girls at giri nagar on a chilly winter afternoon…

when most of us have different shoes for different seasons, the children in delhi slums are lucky if they have any footwear at all.. and rubber chappals are sturdier than the cardboard soled shoes that are sold on weekly marts and that do not withstand a puddle let alone rain!

winter wear is expensive, takes a long time to dry when washed and when you need to multiply it by the number of children you have, finances goe awry.. so it is often the male child who dons shoes whereas the little girls just have chappals… and one must not forget that an open shoe lasts longer, and can be worn even if the foot sticks out both end..

so here again girls are children of a lesser god…

urban treat..

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it was a chilly afternoon as we set out to vist nanhe’s home. we needed to assess the situation and see what was needed to make his return from hospital as comfortable as possible. we locate his mother’s cart and she guided us to her home. we had expected a small jhuggi but this was more like a box where a cot took almost all the place – remember five people lived here, nanhe being the youngest – the place was as tidy as such a place can be, with a small electric stove and all that was essential to subsist. we made a mental note of what would be needed as we sat on the cot..

the dampness of the tiny room made the cold even more biting and quite honestly we were hoping for a cup of tea.. nanhe’s mom had scurried out we thought to get some milk.. we were taken a back when she returned with bottles of pepsi… and looked at each other in dispair.. knowing that we would have to gulp the chilled bottles seeped in the gratitude and love of this brave mother who probably felt thata mundane cup of tea was not god enough for us..

well you see this was urban india and nanhe’s mom had to show that she had learnt urban ways.. in her village we would have probably been given sweet and hot tea..

we drank the urban treat as refusing it would have been hurting her feelings..

Oh darling yeh hai India..

mom by proxy…

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Wonder who this is…

This is our little babli’s family… her father and her little sister.. the ones she has to mother despite a hole in her heart..

But there are no options.. babli’s father who is 35 years older than her mom, is asthmatic and cannot work.. or does not want to. Santosha her mom slogs in a factory for long hours and babli is the one who takes charge of things at home.. True she is not the eldest child. She has a big brother but then he is a boy and enjoys certain privileges: he can play with friends and go to school, in a nutshell be a child..

This is the plight of many little girls who are deprived of their childhood by the realities of life in urban slums where there no extended families. The fact that babli has a severe heart condition makes the matter just that more poignant…

read more about babli:
babli’s world
babli.. a tiny woman of substance
Life on the planet is born of woman
let alone she may die