A STORY RETOLD
Project WHY began with 40 children and a handful of volunteers teaching
them spoken English. As time went by, numerous challenges arose, and to each challenge, the answer was a new activity. The number
of children increased, their demands multiplied, new teachers were discovered within tiny jhuggis and lanes, ad hoc classrooms found.
Parks were cleaned, tents put up, unused pavements cleared, any place would do, but no child was ever sent away sent away.
The children came from far flung places and every one was accepted even if it meant tightening
our belts and squeezing ouselves. The project why family had come to stay!
A beautiful family that brings together different parts of India, different
social and economic strata of society, different forms of worship and faith under one invisible roof big enough to hold everyone together.
Ties and bond are strengthened by sharing pain and anguish. Problems bring us close and solutions are found together.
Moments of sorrow are shared as well as times of joy. And each day our family grows..
It all began with spoken English classes for children and young women but it was not long before the first challenge came our way. A young class
VII student came to ask for help in her school work as she had a forthcoming exam. It did not take us long to find out that the level of
teaching was practically non-existent in state run schools and that if we wanted to be true to our mission which was to contain drop out rates,
it was imperative we run after school support programmes.
That is how our primary and secondary school support began and today we reach out to over 1000 children in four different locations:
From the very outset we decided to draw all resources from within the community as we felt that education can only have a true meaning if it is independent of extraneous factors, hence it was decided to find teachers from within. Though the staff may not at first seem qualified in a conventional manner, they were to be most appropriate for several reasons. First of all they are an extremely motivated group as they got the recognition they never had. Secondly belonging to the same social background as their students, they are able to understand the problems faced by the children and because they are totally different from the 'image' of the teacher the children have, they were able to garner the confidence of the child. Hence Project Why has created over 50 'new' jobs within the community it works with. Team Project Why is a winning team and you can meet them here.
But the true success of Project Why lies in its ability to empower the community to take on their responsibilities and show them how
to find solutions within the existing context. We realised very early that invisible barriers existed - be they caste or creed - and our first venture was to break those
barriers and make project why a true reflection of an ideal India. It is for us a mater of pride to see that communities that barely interacted slowly learnt to discover
each other and respect one another.
Regular parent teacher meetings are also held and they enable us to interact with the parents and make them aware of the importance of education particularly girl's education. This is an uphill task that will take time as it entails changing age old mindsets.
We also strive to make our children better citizens and run a host of extra curricular activities to raise awareness about environmental issues and social responsibility. We run workshops on sensitive issues like gender equality as well as creative workshops like photography and music.
Some of the programmes we initiated are:
Right to Information workshops launched in collaboration with Parivartaan.
The water bearers launched in collaboration with theGoodNewsIndia foundation.
Why on waves when Project Why turned donor and helped raise money for a fishing boat in a tsunami hit village