Anou’s blog Will the world ever be the same again

Anou’s blog
Will the world ever be the same again

Will the world ever be the same again?

This is a question I ask myself every day. For the past few weeks now the corona virus has taken over our lives. It began with schools shutting down. First the primary classes, then classes which did not have exams, then all classes and to crown it all the postponement sine die of the remaining board exams. The upmarket schools swung into action and organised online classes for their students. However for the government school children, a closed school meant no learning at all, and for the primary children no midday meal! The class lines are drawn as is always the case.

With the Covid 19 crisis deepening one has no idea about what the future holds. Delhi and most of India is in complete lockdown and curfew has been imposed. Many theories are doing the rounds. Some think it will be a few weeks, others a few months before things quieten down. The peak in India is expected to come in June. Based on what has happened or is happening in other countries, the worst is still to come. I shudder to think about what will happen when the virus enters the slums. And it will unless a miracle occurs.

Many are not understanding the gravity of the situation and the necessity to remain locked up in our homes and the importance of sanitising ourselves and the environment. For the poor this is almost impossible. Water is scarce, sanitisers expensive and staying at home a chimera when home is a few square feet inhabited by many. No one knows or can even imagine what awaits us and hence the question: will the world ever be the same again?

Will the day dawn when we can pick up where we left and carry on the way we were? Will we hear the laughter of our little creche children again? Will we be greeted by the warm smiles of our special kids or the loud “Good morning Ma’am” of our primary students? Will we walk again in the different centres and see children studying? Will the board exams take place or will the likes of Utpal and Babli loose a precious year. I do not know. Actually I fear not. The virus has hijacked our lives and above all our dreams.

Will the world ever be the same again? Sadly the answer is no. This virus has redefined everything. When it decides to leave us or when we find a way to protect ourselves, the world would have changed. I hope for the better as we would have got time to ponder on our excesses and mistakes and hopefully look at things with our hearts, but the toll on the economy will be a stark reality that we would have to learn to live with.

The world as we knew it has gone forever. The battle with the corona virus will lay the foundation of the new normal that awaits us. Let us hope it will be a wiser and saner place.


Anou’s blog  Social distancing

Anou’s blog
Social distancing

The Corona Virus pandemic has undoubtedly set out new rules for us to abide by. It is redefining the way we will live. India locked itself down in an effort to contain the virus. Till date over 100 people are infected and 2 have died. To keep one’s self safe it is recommended that over and above basic hygiene rules one should practice social distancing. In this effort the Government has ordered closure of schools, colleges, malls, movie  halls etc. Big companies are asking their staff to work from home.

Today I would like to share some thoughts on social distancing and how it affects us. As my friend Damyanti wrote, social distancing is a privilege and exercising it may save lives. But many do not understand this. What we need to know is that for the young and healthy the corona virus may come and go like a flu but the same can kill someone who is aged or sick. The lady who died in Delhi contracted the virus from her son who had travelled recently. Had he self quarantined himself, his mother may have still been alive. As of now all the people infected have a travel history and belong to a certain strata of society. But how long will this last? One can easily infect a maid who comes to your house but lives in a slum. It is imperative to act responsibly.

There are many around us who cannot follow social distancing. They have to step out of their homes and go to work on daily basis or else they will starve. And should any of them be infected the results will be disastrous. It is crucial to understand this if we want to contain the virus. It is quasi impossible for anyone living in a slum to practice social distancing. People live in crowded one room tenements and so if one is infected the likelihood of others being so is very high. Maintaining high levels of hygiene is also difficult when one does not have access to water or can barely afford a hand sanitiser.

It is imperative for those who can be potential carriers to exercise extreme caution and utmost responsibility in order to prevent an exponential rise of the infection. At present we in India are at stage 2. Stage 3 would be a disaster.

In Italy they went from 4 cases to 15000 in 25 days!  This was because restrictions were not enforced in time. It is crucial we exercise self restrictions, go out as little as possible and take all suggested precautions. This is the only way to beat the virus and avoid a catastrophe.




Anou’s blog  Project Why in the times of Covid 19

Anou’s blog
Project Why in the times of Covid 19

The world is in the grip of the Cornona Virus. It has bamboozled everything. As the fear of the virus takes hold of one and all, preventive measures are taken in the hope of containing it. In Delhi all primary and pre primary schools have been closed till March 31st and thus we at Project Why have been compelled to do the same: the creche and all primary sections are shut. Only secondary classes are open with examinations going on.

One misses the presence of the younger ones, the loud singing in the creche as children learn poems and alphabets, the giggles and laughter of the primary classes. All that remains is an eerie silence in empty classrooms. The teachers try to keep busy cleaning up classrooms, competing files and assessment work but their heart is not there. Everyone misses the children.

A sense of uncertainty prevails as no one knows what the morrow holds. Will the virus spread or will it slowly die out with the coming of summer. Everyone is praying for it all to end.

My heart goes out to the children who must be totally bewildered at what is happening. With no school and no Project Why they must be lost not knowing what to do, left to roam the streets as their parents go about their daily routine. No one thinks of slum children when decisions like closing schools are taken. For them school is still a safer haven than their homes.

We just hope and pray that normal days will soon return. Till then little Astitva is the only student of the Project Why creche!

Anou’ s blog  Doing what is right

Anou’ s blog
Doing what is right

For the past week I have been down with high fever. My only connect to reality has been the TV news the better half switches on. Words and images cross the feverish mind and sit there waiting for them to be processed. Only I find almost impossible to do so as the horror of the recent riots in Delhi is incomprehensible to me. How could this have happened in a city where different communities have lived in peace and harmony? Where did the seed of hate come from and who tended to it allowing it to grow? In my feverish state I hear of schools being burnt down, of shops being destroyed, of livelihoods lost. I hear of deaths of young and old, death across the divide the blood running the same red

My febrile mind is unable to take it in and I sink back into semi consciousness.

Mercifully amidst all the violence and gore, the stones and bullets there are stories of hope, neighbour helping neighbours, a man from a community risking his life to save people from another, a tiny hospital bravely providing all the succour it can, a place of worship being saved by people of another faith, stories that restore faith, stories that prove that all is not lost.

So the question that comes to my mind is what makes certain people behave in one way and others in the exact opposite? Why are some willing to pick up stones and guns and destroy while others are eager to heal and spread love. Why are some willing to follow the mob blindly while others have the courage to stand for what is right.

The reality is scary. On Sunday night a spate of fake calls and rumours create panic in another part of the city, the one where we have centres too. Calls are made. In one locality inhabited by people of one community only,  people start gathering stones. One wonders who would be the targets. When asked by a sensible soul, they look around sheepishly. It just needed one person to show them the mirror.

What will it need to have more sensible souls around?

I think it is the education we give our children both in home and schools that will make the difference. It is easy to follow the crowd. It is hard to take the road less travelled. In order to do so we need to lead by example and teach our children values like compassion and respect for the other, we need to make them strong enough to defend what is right when the need arises. To not be afraid of standing alone when the need arises. It is sad that moral science  is no more part of the curriculum in schools. I wish someone collects all the examples of hope that occurred in the last days and share them with children in schools as that is how they will learn.

We at Project Why are committed to teach our children values like compassion and respect. We want them to believe in themselves and stand for what is right, even if they have to stand alone. It is tall order I know but there is no other choice. We are just doing what is right.



Anou’s blog  Feeling blessed

Anou’s blog
Feeling blessed

I cannot believe that in a few weeks Utpal and Babli will have finished their class XII Board Exams and that in just about two keeks Utpal will turn 18 and thus become an adult! To me they both remain the little burnt scalded one year old and the little heavily breathing four year old I lay my eyes on for the first time so many moons ago. That was when I decided or actually was guided to reach out to them and craft their morrows. At that time I had no clue of what the future had in store for us. It would enfold one day at a time.

With Utpal and his third degree burns the first step was to heal his wounds and get him back on his chubby feet. I remember the ordeal of his bandages and the fear we had of any infection setting in. He spent the days in my office in a little cot under my watchful eye. And day after day we witnessed the miracle of his healing. I can never forget the day when I left him under the care of one of our teachers and was told that he had eaten SIX BANANAS! I realised quite early that he was a survivor. I witnessed his first word and was there for his first step. We enrolled him in a play school and I remember dropping and picking him up every day. In our minds we had charted out a roadmap whereby we would try and secure his family and make sure he gets a sound education. But the heavens had another plan for him. A series of rather dark events led to him landing up in my home at the age of 4. He would soon go to boarding school and I would become his legal foster parent. At that time end of school days seemed truly far away. We moved from class to class with our share of hurdles that we both surmounted. And before I knew it he was in class XII. In a few days he will come home for good and his room awaits in the newly constructed house. In hindsight I realise how the heavens conjured to make all this possible as it was their plan that was unfolding, I was just the chosen lead. A new chapter of both our lives is ready to unfold. I feel a tad nervous but immensely blessed.

Babli joined Project Why in class II and was a spunky kid with stars in her eyes but a big hole in her heart that made it difficult for her to breathe. But in a halting way she voiced her dream: to be police! Upon enquiry I came to know that she was in critical need of an open heart surgery that was quite expensive. Again the heavens went to work and we found a kind hearted soul to sponsor the surgery. I thought that was the end of my role. Sometime later I was told that Babli had not been sent back to school but was tending to her father’s cart selling  knick knacks. I was livid and knew I had to intervene. Babli would join Utpal in boarding school. The rest is history.

My two little ones are all grown up now and ready to conquer the world. I do not know what awaits them but am confident that once again the Universe has plans for them. I simply need to play my role and see them fulfilled.

I feel incredibly blessed.

Anou’s blog  You are all winners! A letter to the Project Why Board candidates

Anou’s blog
You are all winners! A letter to the Project Why Board candidates

My dearest children

In just a few hours you will be sitting for your Board exams. Before I say anything else I want to tell you that no matter what the results are YOU ARE ALL WINNERS!

Look at where you have reached in life. From being a baby in a crib you learnt to walk, talk, read, write and went on to school where you spend long years not only learning many subjects but mastering many skills. You fell down many a times but were back on your feet to soldier on. You moved from class to class imbibing many values, learning to care for the other, to respect your elders and to tend to those younger than you. True you may have slipped sometimes but those were invaluable lessons on the path to becoming an adult. You may have encountered failure but that too was needed to know success in its true form. For success lies in the ability to rise from failure.

Today you stand tall ready to take on life. Your exam is just one more stepping stone but do not get discouraged if you are unable to score high. Marks are not what defines you my children. It is also not what you will be judged by as you take your first step into the adult world. What will hold true are the values you uphold. What will stand with you in your professional life is your creativity, your ability to think out of the box, your ability to lead others, your ability to be fair and stand by what is right. This is what will define you.

It has been a matter of pride to have you as Project Why students and I sincerely hope we have been able to instil the right values in you and help you find your true calling. You will always remain part of the Project Why family. My love and blessings are with you wherever you go.

Life waits for you and the universe has charted your course. Your exams are again just a portal you need to step trough. Believe in yourself and give the exam your best shot.

As I said earlier you are already a winner

With Love

Anou Ma’am