2022 turned out to be a rewarding year after many months spent wondering how we would carry on. The pandemic had been a huge blow though we managed to stay the course even on choppy seas. Thanks to all our well-wishers, friends and supporters who never stopped believing in us, we continued our work in spite of all the challenges, with Project Why looking a far cry from the vibrant space it was packed with children and replete with smiles and laughter. The small masked groups of children sitting far from each other, the sanitization between each class, the online classes for the few who had the resources to take them, in no way reflected the spirit of Project Why. To say the least, these were sad times.
But the clouds lifted slowly in the beginning of 2022 and by April 2022 we were almost back on course. At the end of 2022 classes were again jam packed with long waiting lists! But the pandemic had taken its toll on the education graph of our children. Two long years without proper studies, when children got promoted without any teaching having been done. Suddenly a student who was in class VI in 2020 was now in class VII! Needless to say, she was completely lost. It was a huge challenge for our teachers but Project Why teachers are one of a kind and took on the challenge head on. A lot of planning had to be done, but in no time new methods of teaching were adopted, new groups made according to the level of the children and work began in earnest. By the end of 2022, the teachers were pleased to see that most of the gaps had been bridged and were confident that the remaining would be by the close of the academic year in March 2022.
By the end of 2022, the Project Why family was back to its strength of 1200 and we were all happy and relieved. It was not all studies. We resumed our fun activities too. The children went for outings to different places: the crafts museum, the rail museum, the garden of five senses and the Red Fort. On children’s day 45 children were treated to lunch by Azure Hospitality at several outlets of their Dhaba restaurant chain. It was a unique experience. The staff were treated to a day long outing at Pratapgarh Farms courtesy Enfances Indiennes. A wonderful day of fun and bonding.
As always, the children did us proud. Everyone passed their school and Board examinations and two of our students from Okhla got into Delhi University cracking the new All India Entrance Examination. This motivated us to look at beyond class XII. We decided to begin career counselling and also started Spoken English classes and coaching for competitive examinations for Government jobs. These classes are taken by a Project Why alumni and are open to Project Why alumni and the community. The classes are free of cost.
We celebrated all festivals with fervor and fun. The children sang and danced, made posters and wrote slogans and sweets were distributed to all. 2022 was also the return of our volunteers, with Felix, a young volunteer from Germany spending six weeks at the Yamuna centre. We are expecting more volunteers in the coming year.
It was a year when the Gods were kind to us.
In January 2022 we were in a precarious situation on the funding issue. Things looked gloomy as we were short of funds and did not know where to go. But then the Universe sprung into action. The better half introduced us to the Trivedi Foundation who generously accepted to support the Khader and Yamuna centres for a year. Meenal Madhukar, one of our board members brought Mr. Adish Jain into the picture. He and his wife Asha visited the Okhla centre and decided to adopt it for ‘as long as it existed’! That was a huge moment for us. Another board member introduced us to Avantika Chopra who decided to help us full on. She led a crowdfunding initiative with the Fuel-a-Dream platform and managed to raise over 24 lacs. She also helped us increase our visibility in India something we were always wanting to do. She brought in the Max India Foundation who decided to adopt our Giri Nagar centre. We have now inducted Avantika to our Board as an Advisor.
Our regular donors continued their unstinted and generous support be it Enfances Indiennes, Project Why UK or Asha for Education. And to our utmost delight Project Why Germany came back after a short break during the pandemic. We are grateful to each and everyone of them. Their valued contributions allowed us to fill in the gaps and at times undertake much needed repairs. They are the ones who have allowed us to continue our work for over two decades now.
We hope that the Trivedi Foundation and the Max India Foundation will continue their support in 2023.
We will continue to work towards sustainability as only then can I be sure that Project Why will live beyond me. With each passing day my team is taking on more responsibilities and is now communicating with donors. I wait with bated breath for the day I become redundant.
We move into 2023 with renewed fervor and faith.
My eternal gratitude to my team, my Board and all our donors, well-wishers and supporters who stay the course. Without them Project Why would not exist.
Miracles are again waiting to happen in 2023.