Anou’s blog  Education in the times of Covid 19

Anou’s blog
Education in the times of Covid 19

Schools are closed and are likely to remain closed. Education has never been a priority. Once again this ‘new’ normal has drawn the lines between the haves and have not. Privileged schools are running online classes and their students are busy studying. Laptops and tablets are in use with stable internet connections. There is sufficient space in privileged homes for finding a secluded spot even if there are siblings. Parents hover around to make sure that the child is studying.

For children from the underprivileged homes the story is different. An ersatz of online teaching has been put in place: a poor quality smart phone, an unstable internet connection, a tiny space shared with many where the TV blares, no parent to hover over you, WhatsApp groups where no smart phones exist and in many cases no study at all as no adult is willing to give you their phone.

Welcome to the world of education in the times of Covid 19!

Class XII 2020 children are living on a razor’s edge. Every section has one or more papers left. No one knows when these will take place and when the results will be announced and how that will affect college admissions. My heart goes out to all these kids.

No one knows when schools will reopen and what will be the ‘new’ normal then. Will children have to wears masks? Will there be fewer kids in a class and many shifts. And what about play?

Schools are the opposite of social distancing. They are a place where you share a bench, share your tiffin box, share your secrets, your dreams, your pain and your joy. How do you do that six feet apart!

And what will happen to Project Why? It was a place where you packed as many children as possible in the space you have as the motto was to help as many as possible and try never to send a child away. Here again I cannot imagine the new normal. I know we will need to reinvent ourselves but I wonder how. Education in the times of Covid 19 is indeed our biggest challenge.


Anou’s blog  500 miles for Project Why

Anou’s blog
500 miles for Project Why

Last week Jennie one of the trustees of Project Why UK wrote asking whether we were doing anything to help underprivileged families survive the Coronavirus pandemic. I told here that we had identified about 100 families who were in need of food and were providing them groceries to ensure they do not remain hungry. Each distribution cost us about  £700 and would last 15 days. She wrote back saying they would do something to raise funds for another distribution. On April 18 they launched a fund raiser to help us raise funds for another distribution by having their 7 trustees walk 500 miles over 21 days during their daily exercise.

Imagine my surprise when I received a mail on Sunday morning, the day after the fundraiser began, informing me that they had raised the whole amount in ONE DAY and had now doubled their target. I was speechless.

Project Why UK is a perfect example of the magic that Project Why can weave. The seven trustees are all volunteers and friends who came to spend some time at project Why, and carried us back in their hearts. They became staunch supporters and last year decided to formalise their support by registering Project Why UK as a charity. They have stood by us through thick and thin. I feel overwhelmed and humbled.

Thank you Jennie, Harriet, Cat, Catherine, Jon, Mahua and Viren for truly seeing with your hearts. And a big thank you to little Zephyr who ‘walked’ for Project Why on his mum’s back.  I love you all!

The fundraiser is on. Please help Project Why UK reach their new goal by donating here 

You can also donate by Paypal on this link.


Anou’s blog The Project Why Corona warriors

Anou’s blog
The Project Why Corona warriors

Meet Project Why’s corona warriors. Seema, Dharmendra, Vijay, Sanjeet, Amit, Mithu. For the past days they have been busy organising passes, identifying needy Project Why families, procuring and packing goods and braving all odds to see that these reach the beneficiaries. In the first lot 30 families from Okhla and 70 families from Yamuna were identified and a care package delivered to each of them. It consisted of rice, flour, lentils. cooking oil and salt.

The first distribution was organised at Okhla with our one and only Seema taking the lead. The next day it was dependable Dharmendra who spearheaded the distribution in Yamuna with the help of the local police  beat officers who ensured proper social distancing.

In the meantime we received a letter from the Home Ministry asking for our help in arranging cooked meals for the homeless and daily wage workers. Kabir from Azure Hospitality and the Savitri Foundation came forward and immediately agreed to sponsor 1000 meals per day for a period of 30 days These will be distributed in Okhla from next week onwards. It will again be our corona warriors who will take the lead and ensure that this is done in the best way possible.

It is heartwarming to see how the Project Why team responded to the call. Each one of them was willing to come forward and do what was needed.

I am deeply grateful to my incredible team and to Kabir and the Savitri Foundation for rising to the occasion and am confident that we will win the war against this invisible enemy.

Anou’s blog  Dream.. I am there

Anou’s blog
Dream.. I am there

Last Saturday was my 68th birthday. It was a quiet affair coronavirus oblige! Normally my birthday is quite a celebration that begins early in the morning with a call from the US and a cheery message from my grandson. Then it is time to  visit as many centres of Project Why as I can. Everywhere I am greeted with flowers, balloons, cake, cards and even presents. I feel spoilt silly. The evening is a celebration at home with family and close friends. All along the day there are messages and calls from all over the world starting with New Zealand and ending with the USA.

This year would be different. It would be my first and I hope only birthday in lockdown.

However the day began at the crack of dawn with the call from my grandson who had composed a song for me. The little bloke is an expert at tearing me up as he always comes up with something that tugs at my heart. This year was no different.

After getting ready I opened my computer and was taken aback by the number of messages that were waiting for me. It seemed that everyone I knew had decided to make this day special. I was moved by the warmth of the greetings and the love that poured from them. I saw that many messages had been sent at midnight. Utpal and Kiran sent loving messages that made me tear up again. Malini even had a special post on Facebook that made me feel humbled and overwhelmed. Every volunteer, donor, virtual friend was there to greet me and send me their love and support.

The Project Why WhatsApp staff group was flooded with messages and I was touched by the number of people who had taken time to make little movies taking pictures from past Facebook posts and putting them altogether with music and song. It was heartwarming to see how savvy they were at social media. I was gobsmacked!

What I coud feel in every message was the ardent desire to see things return to normal and Project Why reemerge unscathed. That is what we all hope. That is what I hope. But the fear of this not happening looms large even if one tries to remain as optimist as possible. None of us know what the future holds.

But we need to hold on to every shred of hope. More so because I would be unable to see Project Why close. It would kill me. I pondered on this and asked myself why I felt like that and the answer came to me in the lovely post my friend Aparajita wrote for my birthday. I will simply share the last lines of her post: you are what each child, each student wants a teacher to whisper in their ears: ‘dream. I am there’.

No matter what happens. No matter how bruised and battered we are on the other side of these terrible times I still want to be able to whisper in every child’s ears: DREAM. I AM THERE.


Anou’s blog  Lockdown – the new normal

Anou’s blog
Lockdown – the new normal

It has been a week since we are under lockdown. We at Project Why are trying to find our new normal. The uncertainty of the future is daunting to say the least. Many questions beg for answers. How long will it last? Will things ever be the same again? Will we be able to pick up the pieces from where we left them and start again?

Project Why staff has a WhatsApp group that keeps it connected. We try and greet each other and share news about each other. It is heartwarming to see that some of our staunch supporters from other lands do also send messages on the group. Xavier has even coined the phrase United Colours of Project Why and  created an image with the flags of all the countries our friends and supporters come from. This undoubtedly give us hope.

The centre managers hold meetings on Zoom to try and plan for the future. It is nice to see them connecting and learning to use new virtual tools. They are busy upgrading their skills. Making plans also gives hope and hope is something we need to hold on to. The future looks bleak today more so as we do not know how long the crisis will be and what awaits us on the other side but to keep our sanity intact we need to remain positive. At present we must plan on getting the staff their salaries in spite of the lockdown. Many depend on them to survive.

Thanks to the internet and all virtual applications, we are able to keep in touch with donors and volunteers. This also gives a sense of hope. It is touching to see how concerned they are about Project Why.

We have no news about the Boards. This is very nerve wrecking for all the children who were hoping to complete their studies. I hope that they are able to sit for their remaining paper and get admission for higher studies. I pray 2020 is not declared a zero year!

Some teachers have created WhatsApp groups with their students and I am urging all to do the same. This is a nice way keeping in touch and sharing news and advise. This way we will also know that the children are safe and be informed of any problem that can then be taken care of.

It is very frustrating to be in my seventh decade and thus considered as high risk for the virus. I would have liked to be able to move around, find out about the children, help those in need and do something positive. But alas that is not possible. I just try and connect people to the best of my ability.

We have at least another two weeks of lockdown and maybe more. I hope and pray that we are able to flatten the curve and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

To keep going I spend a lot of time looking at old pictures and finding strength from the smiles of our beautiful children.The picture above is one of my favourites.

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.


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