Meet Project Why and Azure hospitality’s Covid 19 warriors: Vijay, Seema, Sanjeet, Dharmendra (Project Why) and Manoj Kumar (Azure Hospitality)
The Covid 19 Warriors: Vijay, Sanjeet, Dharmendra, Seema and Manoj Kumar
For the past 2 weeks now they have been distributing over a 1000 meals to the agricultural labour families on the banks of the Yamuna. They set off at 12 in the scorching heart and distribute the meals till past 2 or even 3pm. They do it with love and compassion and without any fear for their well being. True warriors!
When we received a request from the authorities to help with feeding those in need we reached out to our donors and the Savitri Waney Trust responded immediately by sponsoring 1000 meals a day for a month. Azure Hospitality agreed to prepare the meals. Our one and only Satish Chandra aka Mamaji song into action and contacted the authorities to get all passes and permissions. From Project Why Seema was the first to join the bandwagon, Sanjeet was ever ready wit his auto. Dharmendra suggested we feed the Yamuna people as they were not getting any help at all and Vijay joined the distribution team with great aplomb. I had my four musketeers.
The task is unrelenting day after day. The Azure team starts bright and early preparing 1000 meals. By noon it is time to go and the distribution is done at three different points. It takes a good 3 hours.
With soaring temperatures PPE suits are pure hell to be in but security measures have to be followed. The team braves it all with a smile. There has been not a word of complaint . On the contrary they feel grateful and honoured.
I am so proud of them and can only say Chapeau Bas!
Usually for We are the World Blogfest, we share a positive story–one that shines light amid the darkness,
For the past two months Delhi has been in the throes of severe pollution with the Air Quality Index reaching impossible figures. This sadly happens every year around the same time due to a series of predictable factors: change in wind direction, drop in temperature, burning of crop stubble by farmers in neighbouring states, burning of crackers in the festival season and of course pollution caused by cars, construction and industrial activities and burning of garbage. All this produces a toxic cocktail and turns Delhi into a gas chamber. Sadly once things get better all is forgotten and nothing is done to ensure that things improve the next year.
So every year come October, Delhi goes into pollution mode as everyone evolves coping strategies to brave the assault.
Those who can afford it bring out air purifiers and swanky masks. Some simply leave the city. The government issues advisories that one can barely follow as few can afford to remain indoors and cease all work. Most just have to carry on our activities and hope for the best.
When things get really bad (think an AQI of 900, when less than 100 is safe) the Government kick in emergency measures: odd and even number for cars on the roads, ban on construction and industrial activities and closure of schools. As usual it is the voiceless who are the most affected. This year the authorities closed the schools on 14th November celebrated as Children’s Day. It was extremely distressing to see all arrangements go in vain. Schools remained empty, balloons and streamers fluttering in the eerie space. At Project Why we had to cancel the much awaited Sports Day much to the sorrow of all participants.
What no one realises is that closing schools does not help all children. True, the privileged ones remain within their homes in air purified spaces. But that is not the case of underprivileged children whose homes are small and polluted hovels and the child has no recourse but to ‘play’ in the open often next to revving cars. The hours s/he would have spent safely in school are now spent in the midst of pollution. And the masks distributed by the authorities remains in the school bag as NO child likes wearing a mask, and no one is there to urge them to do so. We remain open at Project Why to ensure that the children have a safe space to go.
Life does change in the time of pollution.
For the past weeks I have been driving past empty spaces, spaces where normally ad hoc labour markets emerge in the mornings with skilled and unskilled workers congregating in the hope of getting a day’s work. There are painters and carpenters, masons and plumbers and just simple labourers who wait eagerly for someone to approach them. As construction work has been stopped now for over a month these persons have got no work. Their meagre and barely existent savings have dwindled and life in the city being too expensive, many have chosen to go back to their villages waiting for the day when work will resume.This sometimes means that children are taken out of school and may not return. My heart goes out to these people who pay a heavy price for no fault of theirs.
One wonders whether it will be Action Replay in October 2020 or whether this time authorities will take some measures to preempt the situation. One can only hope and pray.
They say pollution affects the young and the old most. I shudder to think at the tiny blackened lungs of the Delhi children who will have to pay a lifelong price for having been denied to basic right to BREATHE.
A heartening piece of news in the circumstances is the invention of a device that could reduce pollution:
Given the fact that particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns is the most harmful component of air pollution, a city-based
start-up has come up with a unique device that can be attached to the exhaust pipes of vehicles to convert PM2.5 particles into coarser dust.
“Acting like a magnet, particulate pollutants get attached together and grow bigger in size becoming harmless
PM100 or PM200 particles, like soil or sand. They just fall to the ground and never enter our lungs.”
It could be a case of too little too late, and we this is only a treatment of the symptom. Much more needs to be done to beat the causes of the pollution, but in the meanwhile, let us hope this device is verified, and becomes mainstream soon!
From March 4 to 10th, Project Why will be participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words by taking over Damyanti Biswas’s Daily (w)rite!
It is an honour to be part of this Festival and to talk to a new audience about Project Why. I hope all my readers will join me in this exciting journey.
The posts are based on word prompts and the schedule is as follows:
- 4 March – Forgive
- 5 March – Miracle
- 6 March – Serenity
- 7 March – Nurture
- 8 March – Influence
- 9 March – Trust
- 10 March – Grief
So look forward to this exciting venture at the Write Tribe Festival of Words, with trepidation and a little nervousness.
Please read, comment and share the posts–a little love would would go a long way with our outreach efforts! Tag us if you do: you can find Project WHY on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For the past three months, Project Why has been touched by the magic of two young souls: Luisa and Fabian.
Luisa was barely sixteen when she first visited Project Why with her mother. She was touched by what she saw and told us that she would come and volunteer after she finished school. I must admit that at that moment I thought she would forget her promise but true to her words Luisa made her plans and even convinced her best friend Fabian to come with her.
Luisa and Fabian took to the project immediately and carved their niche. Should you walk in to our Govidpuri Centre in the morning you are likely to be greeted by a upbeat German nursery rhyme interspersed with loud clapping, stomping of feet and giggles. Luisa and Fabian spend their mornings with the creche children bringing their special kind of magic to the class.
That is not all. Luisa is an ace photographer and Fabian an accomplished videographer, so the rest of they time is spent helping us document the Project. You can see them at the different locations, camera in tow and even a drone that fascinates all the children and even staff.
Fabian has worked hours into the evenings in order to edit the videos captured during the daylight hours. Due to his efforts along with Luisa, Project Why has managed to raise funds. Impressed by their documentation, donors have gone on to support parts of the Project.
The two never stop smiling and you cannot but be infected by their joie de vivre. They are always ready to help in anyway and never complain about anything. At an age where most young people prefer spending time with friends partying, these two are busy making new friends in a new land. Language is no barrier when you see with your heart.
Over nearly two decades, we have had many volunteers come to Project Why from all over the world—some as young as 14 and some over 70! Each one has left their mark and holds a special place in our hearts. They have brought their world to our children and allowed them to ‘travel’ in a very unique manner. We are grateful to each and everyone of them.
I am still amazed and touched by these young people who give up their summer vacation or time they could have spend doing anything they wanted, to come to a place like Project Why and give their time and love to children they’ve never met before. They make us believe that there are still many good people in the world and restore our faith in humanity.
We will miss Luisa and Fabian. We hope they come back soon. Till then, Auf Wiedersehen, liebe Luisa und Fabian!
Have you met youth like Fabian and Luisa? What do you think of the volunteering model at Project Why, where members of the underprivileged community are supported by people from distant countries?
Please consider collaborating with us! We welcome visitors, volunteers and anyone who can give us advice on how to improve our practices and processes. Check out our Facebook page for information on the events that are held at Project Why.
You can also support Project Why through a small donation.
Project WHY centres – Delhi and Dehradun – celebrate the Indian festival of Janmashtami today. Children dress up and play act as lord Krishna.
One of the greatest lessons I have learnt during the last two decades is that of survival with dignity and a smile. It has been not only a great eye opener but also taught me to review my own life in a whole new perspective. The art of survival with dignity lies in the ability to live in the now and feel abundant at all times. Over the years I have seen this many times in the generosity and kindness of those who have practically nothing but give with abandon and love. My respect for all hose I work with has grown in leaps and bounds.
The art of surviving with dignity and a smile rests in the ability to look for positives in the times of adversity. We were all privy to this last week when the Yamuna plains got flooded and all the people living on the banks of the river moved to higher grounds. This was the case with all the families of the children of our Yamuna centre. Though the water did not quite reach the centre, we closed it for a couple of days.
The floodplain was filled with water and all the vegetables growing on it were destroyed and hence the very livelihood of these families. But when you live hand to mouth, you cannot waste time on past ad future, you have to think in the now and so as soon as the water receded to waist height, children jumped in to catch fish! Some would be sold and the remaining would provide the next meal.
It is this spirit that I salute each and every time I encounter it, be it in the cup of tea and the flatbread shared offered by a gypsy family who does not know whether it will have a rood on its head the nest day orin the smile of the young boy looking to catch fish after the floods.