Tuesday, November 29th 2016 was a blessed day. One had waited long years for this moment. One of the most cherished vision of Project WHY has been to have children from both side of the spectrum meet and learn from each other as Project WHY believes that it is only then that India will awaken. Project WHY has always supported the idea of a state run, state-0f-the-art neighbourhood school where children from all walks of life learn and grow together as school need to be a level playing ground.
Alas it looks like one will have to wait a long time for this to happen. Hence the next best option: invite children from privileged schools to come and see Project WHY.
This had been long in the making but finally it happened thanks to the inimitable Shaku Ma’am, Principal of CSKM school, a school with a huge heart and the right values.
The need for children of all walks of life to meet and bond is an integral part of any sound education programme. Schools cannot be hermetic bubbles but have to be a level playing ground.
None of us knew how the day would unfold.
This was not your ‘normal’ outing to a museum or an amusement park, this was a raw reality check. How would kids normally ‘shielded’ from the other side of the fence, react to the surroundings and the children.
The Project WHY kids were told that the visiting children were their guests and they were free to interact with them in whatever way the wanted. They had prepared games and were all set to welcome their friends.
It would be quasi impossible for us to guess how the CSKM kids felt when their bus found its way to our Okhla centre and there were a few awkward moments as the children stood at the door and no one knew what to do. But that was short lived and in no time at all the children broke all barriers and it was bonding time. Questions were asked and answered, the bubble gun was soon in action and one heard peals of laughter. Older kids went to play cricket, others played games. Some of the senior CSKM kids were seen in deep conversation with their Project WHY peers, conversation we dared no intrude in. We know that plans were made to ‘meet again’!
It was soon time to move on to the Yamuna Centre where lunch was waiting. The CSKM children served the Yamuna children and vice versa. It was a beautiful moment that will remain engraved in our hearts forever.
The children roamed in the vegetable fields and the Yamuna kids were very proud to show there new friends their vegetable patches and explain cropping patterns.
It was soon time to leave. One could feel the emotions and the myriads of questions in the eyes of the CSKM kids, questions that would ignite compassion and much more. This was a real social studies class.
As they walked back to the bus, they spotted sugar cane growing in a tiny patch next to a hut. They ran towards it. The lady who owned this patch came out and was seen cutting cane after cane and giving it to the children with a huge smile on her face. When we offered to pay she refused. You need not be rich to be generous, another lesson learnt.
Most of the children expressed their desire to do something for their new friends and next week, Project WHY children will go to visit CSKM and share lunch withe their new friends.
Seeds have been sown in young hearts.
It is now for us to water them and help them bloom.