(Posting a series of success stories from the compilation The Project Why Stories 2000-2016)
The only issue that really disturbed him and made his life miserable in Delhi was to see the poverty and suffering on the streets. Every afternoon, returning from his privileged school in Chanakya Puri, he passed by the same busy traffic light where small children begged for money. It broke his heart seeing their daily struggle. Unanswered questions bothered him as to WHY he had such a privileged and enjoyable life while these street children of the same age did not even have shoes to wear or clean water to drink? So, his sister and him came up with the idea to make small packages of dry fruits to hand out to the street children. But still, that did not feel enough, as their packages disappeared fast without bringing any desired change. He realised that the packages of sweetness were welcome, but only provided a very temporary relief from the misery of the streets.
When his mother started to work with Project WHY in 2014, Malte heard about Project WHY’s support for slum children, who also had a difficult life, but now had a chance to learn and improve their future. One Saturday morning, in October 2015, he came along and saw for himself how a small group of committed people was trying to make a longer-lasting difference for a lot of poor children. He was amazed to meet with the children, see their smiles on their faces and their eagerness to learn. A couple of weeks later, he took his cub-scout group to whitewash the newly renovated Okhla Centre. They all joined hands with the Project WHY children to make the centre colourful and a happy place to learn. It gave him immense joy. He finally found a place where poverty was not accepted as a fate but as challenge to overcome! And where he, a ten-year-old boy, could contribute to make a difference.
Malte’s determination to make a difference did not stop. He, with his friends Stefan and Scottie, decided to do even more. They came up with the idea of organizing a donation drive in their ‘privileged’ school. They designed colourful posters to show Project WHY’s work, and asked the special kids (of Project WHY) to colour and decorate traditional piggy banks (gulak) for collecting donations. With everything prepared they got up early every morning, for one week, in the freezing month of December 2015, to build their stand at the school entrance asking all children, teachers and parents passing by to donate for Project WHY. Even the school principal and the American Ambassador were impressed and eagerly squeezed their donation in one of the gulaks.
Malte and his friends raised INR 12,000 in total. With these funds, Project WHY was able to buy a Bamboo roof for the Okhla centre, giving the students a covered shelter that protected them from the harsh summer and winter months.
Since then, Malte has felt a part of the Project WHY family. He is constantly asking about the different children, and is always happy to join his mother for a visit. Periodically, he gives away his pocket money to buy school supplies for the Project WHY Centres. Every time he is overwhelmed by the poverty in India, he thinks up something new he could do for the children in Project WHY, knowing that at least his friends there will enjoy a different future.