picture perfect

picture perfect

This is not a painting or a touched up photograph. It is s snapshot of our ‘class in a box’ – a.k.a as our manav kalyan creche – and was taken by a visiting friend.

What makes this class so special is that it is the initiative of two barely literate slum housewives who decided to keep this class going even when we moved out of the area. As it is a little far away from our normal beat we tend to neglect it a bit but both Seema and Sarita run it with extreme efficiency.

Most of the decorations are made with recycled objects (such as toffee wrappers) and the little ones are even taught yoga. Though this may seem common place in ‘our world’, it is remarkable as Seema on her own initiative joined some craft and other courses to gain new skills.

A true story of empowerment and one that vindicates what we stand for.

whose family is it anyway

I have been watching the recent on-goings of the Presidential elections. I have nothing against any candidate but could not but wince when I heard our prime Minister defending the lady candidate’s past with the words “she cannot be held responsible for the wrong-doings of her family” he was of course referring to the collapse of the cooperative bank she founded.

At about the same time Radhey our faithful three wheeler operator received a threatening call from a recovery agent pertaining to an unpaid cell phone bill of his handicapped and maverick son. When he tried to explain that the son in question did not live with him or listen to him and thus was not responsible for his misdemeanours, the irate man simply told him that he had 24 hours to pay up or else they would issue a warrant of arrest against him, as if the son did not pay up the family was liable.

Once again a tale of two Indias.. I presume

changing egosystems..

changing egosystems..

“Trying to save ecosystems has more to do with changing egosystems.” said Don Rittner

Last week a visitor from Europe shared his dilemma about choosing a new car. His main concern was carbon emissions and thus his choice a small car though he was a person who could afford the biggest on the market.

Yesterday night as we drove back from a late dinner, we were fishtailed by a speeding sports spewing smoke. The driver was obviously showing off his vehicle as he broke every rule in the book.

It is evident from the above that whereas our European friend has a deep concern for the environment, our young home lad has a long way to go. This is a sad reflection on education as and awareness as the young sports car driver was definitely from a good home.

We have been trying at pwhy to sensitize staff and children on environment issues and we even held a staff workshop on global warming, in the hope that they in turn will take on the issue in their respective classes. And the idea bore fruit as yesterday a day-long programme was held in our secondary section with debates and a painting competition.

The day was spent sharing and exchanging information and trying to find out what children living in slums could do as when one browses sites on global warming most of the remedial measures do not apply to kids in slums. Awareness is needed but is in no way sufficient. One has to give children concrete steps that they can follow. This is not an easy task as we are here faced with people who have come to cities to access new and modern amenities and are loathe to give them up.

And herein lies the challenge. The first step is undoubtedly to show them how critical matters have become and how the sheer numbers in India make it vital for us to act. The battle is far from won but it has begun.

bake a cake

bake a cake

When Kiran got admitted in an upmarket pubic school.. it was a dream come true for her family and for all those who love her. Admission woes were soon forgotten as she set of in her sparkling uniform to conquer a new world.

It would be a big challenge to see her through but her brave little family was determined to ensure that this lovely child would get the best, even if it meant a lot of sacrifices and many hurdles.

The first one came sooner than we expected. As summer holidays began and we perused the dreaded holiday homework sheets we stumbled on one that stumped us all. The class I one child was supposed to bake a cake and immortalise the event in a set of pictures that were to be pasted on the sheet.

Now cakes have percolated down to the poorest of homes in slums in the from of b’day cakes bought at the local bakery, or the packaged version available in local grocery stores but baking a cake is still an uncharted territory. Kiran’s home does not have an oven and anyway her family’s culinary expertise does not extend to baking.

On the other hand not doing the homework would entail consequences none of us would want. Hence the cake was baked in my home and the task fulfilled leaving us to wonder when and in what form would the next hurdle appear in what now seemed to be a surprise obstacle race.

This post could read as a fun one, but if one stopped and took time to think, the incident highlights once again the invisible, unmentionable and yet ever present divide that exists in our country.

I remember times when some part of the homework of my girls could not be completed for some reason or the other and how one confidently circumvented the issue with the teachers. It was easily done as both protagonists belonged to the same side of the fence. However in Kiran’s case, saying that she did not have an oven at home would be almost akin to branding her with her red hot iron.

I am sure that teacher who drafted the homework included this item as a fun project and for as long as different kinds of schools exist in our land such things will occur. It is only when we look at all the children of India in the same manner that we will be able to resolve the issue…

depend on them…

depend on them…

Don’t believe in miracles – depend on them said Laurence J Peter and that is what we have been doing for seven years now. If you need to know whether miracles exist or not,just read on.

Manu who you see in the picture used to roam the streets dishevelled, uncared for and sneered by all. Today he sits with a huge smile holding the weaving frame for his pal Shalini who is learning to make rag rugs. Manu has a peer group and even friends. He laughs and gets angry just like all of us and is slowly learning to live.

Nicola is back home with a brand new hip and a huge smile. In spite of everything being against her, she never lost hope and today she is set to make up for lost time by healing others.

Utpal’s journey from a boiling pan to a boarding school is nothing short of a miracle and as he spends his last summer holiday moments with his mom , he knows that they both have beaten all odds.

In a few weeks Mehajabi will join the rank of the 11 other kids who now have a brand new heart.

Bu these are not the only miracles that came our way. There are more. All the kids who passed their examinations with obsessive regularity; the handful of special bacchas who spend a few hours a day laughing, dancing and above all learning; young Rinky locked in her silent world who now has a job in a beauty parlour; Farzana who had failed twice and whose parents were almost at the brink of stopping her studies and who is now a class XII graduate; our motley bunch of ‘teachers’ who proved everyone wrong by doing a great job.

However all this could not have happened without the miracle of the incredible web of friends from all over the world and all walks of life who stood by, believed in us and reached out without fail each time we needed them.

Yes, project why is an endless string of miracles big and small that have dotted our lives for the past seven years and we do depend on them.