“No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”
There have many tags lines to Project Why, and though we chose “because me make that little difference” the one I lied the best was: where children dare to dream. From the very outset, when Project Why as it is known today was just a mere idea in my mind one thing was certain and that it was a place for children to be children and the one thing children do best is DREAM!
I was a little taken aback when I heard that somehow it had been felt that our Yamuna children had no dreams. I would believe that this misconception was a communication gap for all project Why children HAVE dreams, and we are there to do our best and make that happen. Even little Priya, who was just three when we opened our doors and had not thought of having a class for toddlers would come everyday copy book and pencil in hand and stand firmly at the gate. Needless to say she was taken in and with her many toddlers. And the same little girl would say with conviction when asked what she wanted to be: a doctor! She had her dream safely tucked away in her head.
Sometimes these children who come from homes where kids are not heard, barely talked to and even beaten to submission it is difficult to think about dreams. These children are in survival mode and their ‘dream’ then would be not be shouted at, scolded or beaten.
A few years back one of our staunchest supporters and a singer too decided to have the children write the lyrics of a song that she would then put to music and have the children perform. The opening words of the song were: I wish! A workshop was held to try and work out the lyrics. But somehow the children were unable to voice their wishes and dreams. It is only when our wise coordinator reworded the question and asked them what they would do if they were given 100 rupees and the floodgates opened and dreams were unleashed: flowers and trees, swings and parks, a doll to play with, a sari for Mommy. And the dreams became bigger: no fights, access to university. You can enjoy the song here.
Even our special children, yes those who cannot walk or talk have their dreams. Many years ago our Japanese friends celebrated the Japanese festival Tanabata, where children write their wishes on bits of paper and tie it to bamboo plants, the special were also asked to give their dreams. We were moved to tears when we saw their papers: teachers, pilot, dance with Salman Khan, fly a plane, be a police officer irrespective of their mental or physical challenge.
Every child had a right to dream and we at Project Why strive to create the spaces where children can dream and dream big. Then it is for us to strive again to try and make the dreams come true.