Monday, June 04, 2012

Time to get our very own red carpet

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! For the past weeks I have been writing about issues that irk me and in the bargain have completely obliterated the essential: the essential being project why! I guess I was stricken by a bout of the comfort zone syndrome: in this occurrence the fact that all is always well at project why. So April passed and I failed to mention the stunning results of our kids and then May came and went and with it the dreaded Board exam results. This was before Internet days, when pwhy teachers went to schools to check the lists and I waited cellphone in hand! The whoops of joy and oodles of sweets that followed were indeed ah ha moments. Then year after year all our students passed and slowly the dangerous comfort zone took over. I have no option but the proverbial kick myself in the butt!

So here I am with egg on my face trying to make amends. The kids have never let us down be they in class I or XII. It is their ageing Ma'am who is at fault. Time to redress the tort. So without more delay I am thrilled to share with all of you the achievements of the project why family.
Let us begin with our Okhla centre. All the children primary and secondary have passed their examinations. That means a whopping 260 kids! What is truly brilliant is that this year we had our first batch of class X and they ALL passed their Board exam. Akeel even topped his class. And Pooja and Brijesh topped class VI and little Sapna topped class1!. Now this may seem no great shakes to some. However if I were to tell you that our Okhla centre is located in a garbage dump, the closest primary schools is a kilometer away and the secondary school 5 km away (yes this is in Delhi and next to a new swanky five star hotels, that there are no NGOs in the area, that parents are often working long hours in factories and care very little if not at all for their children's education. The children are left to their own devices.


That is why we had decided to start a centre in this godforsaken area way back in 2005 even if it meant clearing up space in a garbage dump. I remember having paid for 3 or 4 trucks earth from my own pocket as finances were short then and how could one explain to our donors the sudden need for tons of earth. We were meant to be an education organisation were we not! What had prompted me to do so was the fact that children in that god forsaken dump were being used by mafias and politicos to fulfil sinister agendas. Okhla was not easy to set up. Our 'school' then a shack with a bright blue plastic sheet held up by bamboos was regularly destroyed and doggedly rebuilt by our valiant staff. But slowly things settled and we could put up walls, then a tin roof, then an extra room and thus have a primary, secondary and even a computer section. We were in business and our best supporters where the children themselves as they soon took ownership of their school. They are the ones who demanded a secondary section when the first batch reached class VI and insisted on  computer having computer classes. When we meekly suggested that computers may not be safe in the centre they loudly retorted that they would make sure that nothing happened. And in spite of conditions that no insurance company would ever agree to - a rickety door, walls that would collapse were they pushed - they children kept their promise. Today the computer centre located in a tiny space is the only one in the entire area and a great success. What a way we have come. I had almost forgotten this.

Now on to our Govindpuri centre which began only 2 years ago after we had to close down Sanjay Colony and Nehru Camp. From a mere 30 students we now have 104 and from a primary outreach programme we almost surreptitiously mutated into a secondary one as we now have classes VI and VII. One of the biggest USP of this class is that Anita, one of our teachers is a project why alumni. She joined us in nursery way back in 2000! And now for the results: a whopping 17 kids stood first in their respective classes with Saifin even getting a scholarship. Kudos to all.

Now let us get to the famous Boards classes X and XII. All our students passed: 28 cleared their Xth and 12 their XIth. In class X Pooja secured 87.3% and in class XII Akansha topped with 95%! Wow! Well done girl!

At the women centre all children passed their examinations. That means 298 kids in all and we had nine toppers. Not bad at all. This year we will be having our first class X batch. Fingers crossed. But that is not all, our women have not done badly at all. The sewing and beautician classes are also bearing their fruits. 3 students have opened their own beauty parlours, 2 in their villages and one in the nearby slum. 9 women work door to door and 2 have secured jobs in beauty parlours. Most of our sewing ladies work from home but 9 of them have got jobs in boutiques and export houses.

So you see there are many stars at project why. Time to get our very own red carpet!

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