Sunday, April 12, 2009
Project WHY ......Making a Difference one Life at a time!
If anyone is wondering why there has been a lack of entries in our Blog, it is simply due to the hectic schedule I have had over the past two weeks.
Three visitors from the US.....a Conference in Mumbai......visits to the hotel project sites......meeting after meeting......follow up from the meetings.....get the picture?
However, despite the crazy schedule and hours that were being kept, we managed to find a few hours to do some volunteer work.
I find it amazing how my life is guided at times......volunteering was not my idea especially while I was looking at the hectic schedule that was building on my calendar.....it was the request of one of my colleagues from the US, who asked if it would be possible for him to do some volunteer work while he was here on his extended trip(his third to India).
Of course, when his request came, I asked Linda for some assistance, as she has made some wonderful contacts through the organizations she has become involved in......and she knew the organization that was a perfect fit for what we wanted to do......Project WHY!
Linda had met "Anu" at one of the American Women's Association meetings she attended......Linda was moved by the work Anu was doing and how this woman had forever made a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
The day we volunteered, it happened to be Anu's birthday, but even though it was a Saturday she was there to meet us.
She told us all about the organization; the work she does with children from the "juggi" (slum). She has a pre-school program which begins teaching English at a young age.....the ability to read and write and speak in English seems to be the foundation upon which a person can build a better life for themselves here in India.
Anu also takes in children and young adults who are mentally challenged.....she provides a refuge for them on a daily basis....an escape from the physical abuse many suffer if left at home...as they are not able to contribute to the family unit....therefore many are abused or simply ignored by their own families. Anu explained that she and her volunteers will sometimes physically go to the homes of these children and remove them from harm......teach them life skills....provide food and shelter....and simply show them love and affection.
She provides before and after school programs for children from the juggi as well. Public schools educate girls in the morning and boys in the afternoon.......and Anu and her volunteers work with the students....help them to complete their schoolwork.....and generally provide support to keep them in school and off of the street.
Project WHY is not funded by huge corporations or foundations.....Project WHY is a grass roots organization....started by Anu shortly after the death of her parents by her own yearning to make a difference in the lives of others.......and what an incredible difference she has made.
She went on to tell the story of a father......who sought her help to save the life of his son......the father did not have the money to seek the medical assistance for the open heart surgery his son needed to keep him alive. Anu found a way to make this happen......not once but over the years she has raised money to save the lives of 15 such children!
While Chris and Rob gravitated to the smaller children, I was more comfortable spending time with those a bit older......boys ranging in age from 9 to 15 or so......since our volunteer day was on a Saturday, most of the time the children spend are on "fun" activities.
The young man above is Radu......he is 13 years old and at the age of 8, Radu underwent open heart surgery with the financial assistance of Project WHY. I had the pleasure of playing three games of chess with him.......he beat me twice!
Chris, Rob and I also learned how to play cricket......a totally new experience for us.....and one I will never forget.
If you are planning a visit to India, and your agenda includes spending some time making a difference in the lives of others, Anu and her staff would welcome you with open arms. You can find those in need at every street corner.......there is no shortage of poverty.....the beauty of Project WHY is that you truly can see your efforts at work......your donation of time and money actually touching the lives of those in need.....without the worry of how your money may be spent or if it is reaching the hands of those who are not in need.
By the way......the average cost of an open heart surgery here in India is 80,000 INR (rupees).....about $1600.00 US......
To learn more about Project WHY I have included the link to their website......for those who read this blog and want to raise money for a very worthy cause.......donate clothing, toys, or time......Project WHY could use your help.