Anou’s blog You’re simply the best, Naresh Sir #GivingTuesday#HelpMithuSaveSchool

Anou’s blog
You’re simply the best, Naresh Sir #GivingTuesday#HelpMithuSaveSchool

I have written many times about Naresh our one of a kind Math teacher! And yet each time I set about writing another post I do it with immense joy and pride. I met Naresh even before the idea of Project Why seeded in my mind. He was the son of Mataji, the healer who helped give a direction to my life. He was in his early twenties, recently married, had completed his BA and was looking for a job. His mother asked me to help try find him one and I feel a tad ashamed to say that I did, in a fancy shoe store. Needless to say he lasted a day!

In the meantime Project Why came to be in its first avatar, spoken English classes, and my interaction with Naresh was minimal. Our English classes had students of all ages and amidst them a group of class X students. One day I saw deep welts on the arms of one of them and was told that he had been beaten in school. I was furious and decided to go to the school to protest but was met by a posse of grim looking school teachers who instead of being apologetic for beating a child, decided to deride the boys in front of us telling us that there was no hope for them and that they would all fail. Without thinking I retorted that I would ensure they all pass!

naresh Bhardwaj teacher with students

Math teacher Naresh with some of his students

We had no space, no teacher, no funds, no resources but knew something had to be done as the examination was two months away. That is when I was told that Naresh use to take tuition classes and loved teaching. I asked his help telling him that I had no money to pay him yet but would try and get some as soon as possible. Naresh immediately agreed and it was at that moment that I saw how much he loved teaching and taking on a challenge. The only time the students had was 7.30 in the morning and the only space we had was on the roadside. But classes stared in earnest and needless to say ALL students passed their examinations. The year was 2002.

Our secondary section was set up and till date Naresh has ensured that all students clear their Boards.

I soon realised that Naresh was not your ordinary teacher who looked at teaching as a job or even a career. He was passionate about his teaching and for him every child that came to him had to shine. He would give more than his 100% taking classes late in the evening and even willing to give up his morning lie-in to take classes at the crack of dawn during exam time. Every student of his was special.

Needless to say the students too love their Naresh Bhaiya who is also a mentor and a friend. Today his students stand tall, as many of them say Naresh Sir has given them the confidence they never had and the motivation to reach for the stars. Many of his students have reached unimaginable heights: from working at offices to joining the army.

Naresh never shied fromm learning, and took extra classes to be able to teach class XII and accountancy so that he could give his beloved students his very best.

When the Okhla Centre began its senior secondary classes and there was no Math teacher available, Naresh agreed to take on the task and divide his time so that these children could be taught in the best way possible. Naresh never lets a child down.

Naresh is endearing and infuriating at the same time. He is a maverick and does not like rules and regulations. But should you decide to chide him, all he has to do is smile and you are disarmed. And his talent does not stopped at Math. He is a very skilled artist, a born entertainer, a great cook and the life of any celebration. He is simply the best.

teachers to save Okhla school blogathonToday Naresh may lose his Okhla children as the centre may close for want of funds. Please join our Valentine’s Blogathon  to support Naresh and save his school.

It is Valentine Week, a week when one celebrates love and honours it. This year would you consider honouring the one you love by helping us save our Okhla school?

If you’re a fellow blogger, please consider joining the Valentine’s Day Blogathon. Write one or more posts to talk about love, any kind of love at all, and about honouring the ones you love.

All we ask is at the end of your post, you mention the fundraiser, link to it, and add the graphic above. We will start off a linky list where you can add all your posts.

You can support the #HelpMithuSaveSchool fundraiser to save the Okhla school HERE.

If you’re not a blogger, send in a small amount to support the fundraiser, and share it on social media so others can do the same. Every bit adds up. Let us celebrate this Valentine’s day with an unconditional love for education.

 

Anou’s blog An Unconditional Love for Education

Anou’s blog
An Unconditional Love for Education

I learnt about the importance of education at my mother’s knee as she shared with me her passion for learning. That small town girl born in times where women were not educated and married in their teens had such an incredible and almost illogical love for education that she left no stone unturned to fulfil her desire to learn. From hunger strikes to mellow her Gandhian father to accepting every condition thrown her way, she never faltered and went on to acquire every degree in sight. It is education that allowed Kamala to break all barriers and and the freedom fighter’s daughter would go on to become a- Ambassador’s lifelong partner .

I realise today that with every story she shared she was imbuing me with her love for learning and crafting the person I would become as well as paving the road I would walk on. I often tend to forget how much I owe her and how much she has influenced the way Project Why has gone. It is her never-say-die attitude in the face of adversity that propelled me to never give up even if the challenges were daunting. I knew there was always a way, you just had to find it or simply create it.

That is how over the past two decades now, Project Why has overcome every challenge no matter how insurmountable it may have seemed. When Sophiya told us about the plight of the Okhla children I knew that a way had to be found and education had to be brought to these kids even if the only space was a garbage dump. Today I am reminded of St Exupery’s word when he said: “A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.” That is how one felt when one first saw the Okhla garbage dump. We all saw a school teeming with happy children learning and laughing and that is what the Okhla centre is today!

I now see the spirit of Kamala in all the incredible women who impart their love for education to the Project Why children. I see her in Pushpa, in Sophiya, in every one who has been part of this journey. I see her spirit in all the young girls who come and learn at Project Why. I see the same hunger in their eyes and I know that they are on their way to fulfilling their dreams.

Today, when our Okhla Centre is in danger of being closed, it is her spirit that once again propels me to do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen and I know that she is watching us and conjuring the miracle we need.

Kamala’s love for education was unconditional. My fight for saving Okhla has to be unconditional too!


It is Valentine Week, a week when one celebrates love and honours it. This year would you consider honouring the one you love by helping us save our Okhla school?

If you’re a fellow blogger, please consider joining the Valentine’s Day Blogathon. Write one or more posts to talk about love, any kind of love at all, and about honouring the ones you love.

All we ask is at the end of your post, you mention the fundraiser, link to it, and add the graphic above. We will start off a linky list where you can add all your posts.

You can support the #HelpMithuSaveSchool fundraiser to save the Okhla school HERE.

If you’re not a blogger, send in a small amount to support the fundraiser, and share it on social media so others can do the same. Every bit adds up. Let us celebrate this Valentine’s day with an unconditional love for education.

 

 Anou’s Blog Help Save a School Founded in a Dustbin

Anou’s Blog
Help Save a School Founded in a Dustbin

Sophiya is one of our oldest staff members. She came to us way back in 2001 or 2002 when we were still finding our feet and trying to answer the many whys that came our way and looking for people who would give wings to our dreams. Sophiya had been involved in community work and seemed the ideal person to help us understand the needs of our beneficiaries. Moreover I was impressed by her gentle demeanour, her kind smile and the inner strength that seemed to emanate from her and was keen to have her join our team. She did and there was no looking back.

Sophiya joined as a primary teacher and was loved by all our students. She has also stepped up whenever needed and was always eager to help. Sophiya never considered her role in Project Why as a ‘job’ but was an integral part of our vision and mission. In 2004 she told us about the plight of the children in the Okhla neighbourhood she lived in. This was an industrial area with small cramped tenements tucked away between factories that spewed all kinds of venom. There were no schools in the vicinity, no parks for the children to play in and absentee parents that led to children being on their own and ready targets for lurking predators. Sophiya wanted us to start a school in that area and was willing to leave no stone unturned to achieve that.

She offered her home to begin our school as she felt that beginning work would help us gain the support of the community and even authorities. With the help of Pushpa she set out to find a suitable space and also seek permission form the local administrative and political authorities. She did both! You cannot underestimate the power of this quiet, resilient lady!

After much searching a garbage dump was located and Sophiya was confident that it could be transformed into a happy place for children. I must confess that when I first saw it I was far from convinced. How wrong I was.

In no time we opened our ‘centre’ with a couple of bamboo poles and a bright blue plastic sheet. The rest is history. Sophiya and Pushpa weathered every storm, bore every slander but never gave up. Today the Okhla Centre is a vibrant school where over 350  children are busy crafting their morrows. Sophiya is back to teaching her primary kids.

We have known each other for almost two decades Sophiya and I! Over the years I have learnt to admire her quiet but firm ways, even her occasional stubbornness which is so much part of who she is. I realise how much she has given to Project Why and am deeply grateful to her. Sophiya is undoubtedly an unsung hero.

Today the very centre and school Sophiya created with so much love and pain is in danger of being closed. We have launched an online fundraiser campaign to save it and hope you will join it too.

Find Project WHY on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  We need your help to share Sophiya’s story with your friends and family on the hashtag #HelpMithuSaveSchool.

Each share can bring us three times the donation.

Add in a little to the fundraiser–with small contributions from a big crowd, we can get together to help Sophiya keep her wonderful school alive!

Help Sophiya save her Okhla Centre. #HelpMithuSaveSchoolFundraiser

 

 

 What’s new  Alumni meet at Okhla Centre

What’s new
Alumni meet at Okhla Centre

At Project WHY Okhla centre, a very special reunion of past students, and their teachers who continue to hold the torch for education for children today.  Some of these kids have gone on to graduate, found jobs, and broken out of the vicious cycle of poverty in their underprivileged community.

It was heartwarming to hear their stories and proved once again how education can transform lives.

Today their school may losing its funding. Please help us keep it open by contribution to the #HelpMithuSaveSchool fundraiser: https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/helpmithu

 

 Anou’s Blog  Help Mithu save his school at Project Why #GivingTuesday #HelpMithuSaveSchool

Anou’s Blog
Help Mithu save his school at Project Why #GivingTuesday #HelpMithuSaveSchool

MEET MITHU MANDAL, COMPUTER TEACHER: OKHLA CENTRE, PROJECT WHY, NEW DELHI

Mithu Mandal lost his legs to polio at the age of 3, and was never interested in a formal education.

At Project WHY, he not only learned about computers, but became good enough to teach children how to use them.The Project Why Okhla centre where he teaches, supports the education of 350 children, quite a few of whom also learn computers from Mithu. Without this centre, Mithu would not have a job.

 

In the coming year, this centre is about to lose its funding and faces a very real possibility of shutdown, which is why we’ve now launched the #HelpMithuSaveSchool fundraiser.

PROJECT WHY ACTIVITIES

Project WHY is a flagship programme of Sri Ram Goburdhun Charitable Trust, which provides educational support to underprivileged children. This non-profit, after-school support programme goes beyond academics, to include life skills and all-around development.

Project WHY reaches out to 1200 children and 160 women.

Since 2005, Project WHY runs a computer education programme.  Mithu started as a student, worked his way up to being a teacher’s aide, and then took over as the computer teacher.

WHY THE PROJECT WHY OKHLA CENTRE SHOULD REMAIN OPEN

The Okhla education centre began its activities in 2004 to address the problems of an extremely vulnerable group of children who were targeted by drug and other mafias.

Space was not easy to find and the only option was a space near a garbage dump. It was ‘reclaimed’ and classes began under a plastic sheet held by bamboo poles. The centre is the result of hard work from its staff and founders, who have faced everything from littering, to assault from criminal elements in order to keep it running for all these years.

Today, the Okhla Centre has a stable structure, and Mithu runs its computer programme. It helps retain children in school, offering primary and secondary education along with the computer classes.

The centre is an important component of the neighbourhood, keeping crime, drugs and negative elements at bay and replacing it with education and employment.

WHAT IS NEEDED

To give us time to find a sustainable source of funding, the Project WHY Okhla centre needs:

 1.   4 Staff honorariums for 6 months:        379, 104    (5,330 USD)
2.    Electricity for 6 months:                            9, 000       (125 USD)
3.    Learning aids and stationery                  15, 000       (210 USD)
4.    Laptop for Mithu                                      33, 700       (475 USD)
5.    Internet                                                      3, 000         (45 USD)
6.    Bank fees for fundraiser                          48, 379
 
      (680 USD)

————————————————————————————
Total                                                               488,183    (6, 865 USD)
———————————————————————————–

WHY YOU SHOULD DONATE

▪    Computer education has changed Mithu’s life, and he’s passing on his expertise to others who are gaining the skills essential at a modern workplace.

▪    The teachers Mithu Mandal, Pushpa Kumar, Sophiya Tirkey, Naresh Bhardwaj belong to the underprivileged community, so when you donate towards their salaries, you’re directly donating to the community and not a non-profit overhead. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing their stories, each just as inspiring and full of spirit as Mithu’s.

▪    Children gaining secondary education at the centre will be going in for higher education, and staying away from life on the streets.

▪    The laptop will be given to Mithu. This will enable him to take courses, which he will use to improve his teaching curriculum.

Donate online to the Fundraiser

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DONATION PROCESS

▪    If you’re donating from India, your donation is 50% tax deductible under section 80G.

▪    If you’re donating form the USA, France, or Germany, you can make tax-deductible donations via these avenues.

Mithu teaching at Project WHY

DONOR FEEDBACK AND COMMUNICATION

▪    The entire expense account would be put up on the Project Why website once the amount is raised. You can check out an account of our previous fundraiser.

▪    Join the Project Why family by supporting Mithu, so he can help others in his community. No amount is too small, and every little bit would help keep Mithu’s workplace, the Project WHY Okhla Centre, safe from a shutdown.

▪    Read the Project WHY story at www.projectwhy.org.

Find Project WHY on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and please help share the story to your friends and family on the hashtag #HelpMithuSaveSchool.

Each share can bring us three times the donation.

Add in a little to the fundraiser–with small contributions from a big crowd, we can get together to help Mithu keep his wonderful school alive!

Donate to #HelpMithuSaveSchoolFundraiser