Sophiya, our senior most staff came to us one day in 2003 and told us about the plight of children in the area where she lives – Okhla. Okhla is a Suburban colony in South Delhi more commonly known as Okhla Industrial Area, situated near the bank of Yamuna river. The ‘area’ is a mix of factories and slum tenements that are tucked away in-between the factories.
At that time, over 90% of children in the area did not attend school.
The Okhla education entre 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. It took a while for the community to realise the worth of our intervention but they did and we could carry on unhindered.
Today, Okhla Centre has a pucca structure, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Kabir Suri of Azure Hospitality. Both Primary and Secondary support classes are supported which cater to over 183 children in two shifts. A computer centre was added in 2005. Environment and other related issues are also part of our program and the children have themselves planted green plants in front of the school. This year we plan to extend our educational support to include classes of 11 and 12.
PROJECT COST: Rs. 22 000 – 330 US$; 230 £
PROJECT COST: Rs. 32,000; US$ 480; 330 £
Writing about this class is akin to writing the project why story. Our Senior Secondary Project began on the roadside in the dead of winter 2001 to answer yet another deafening why. A bunch of class X students from our Spoken English class has been beaten in school. This was inadmissible to us and a visit to the school brought to light the contempt with which children from poorer homes were treated. The Principal sneered at them, calling them gutter snipes that would never be able to pass their Boards. The body language of the children compelled us to throw a challenge stating that they would ALL pass!
As everything at Project Why, the computer centre started because children wanted it. When we opened our office in 2001, we installed a computer for our office work. As we follow an open door policy, children use to walk in and out and we soon realised that it was because of the computer. We would allow some of the children to sit at it and would show them how it worked. We knew that the next item on our list had to be a computer centre.
In no time, we managed to get a few old computers and our computer project saw the light of day.