Because it’s Valentine’s Day. Because I love my country. Because I love people who never give up. Because I love a good story.

A dream

Once upon a not so long ago time, there was a woman named Sophiya. She lived in Okhla, an industrial area with tiny hutments for homes. There were no schools there and the kids used to just loiter around doing nothing. Sophiya decided to change this.

At that time she was working with Anou Bakshi at Project Why as a primary teacher. She made friends with Pushpa and shared her dream with her.

Sophiya and Pushpa decided to search for a place to start a school. They spoke to Anou and took her to visit the place. She was aghast to see that the place they had chosen was a rubbish dumb. But Pushpa convinced her that they could do it and so the two friends got the place cleared and put up four  bamboo poles  and draped a blue plastic sheet over it.

No matter what

They started teaching the kids there, but as you know every story has to have a twist in the tale. This came in the form of the local goons who threatened them. Every weekend the makeshift school would be pulled down by the bad guys and every Monday, the two women would get their school up and running again. They just refused to give up.

Since every story has its heroes as well, let me tell you about ours at Okhla.

Can’t walk but will lead

Mithu Mandal lost his legs to polio as a kid . He did not like studies  but at Project Why he learnt computers and got fascinated. Today he teaches kids in the Okhla centre computers and helps them look forward to a better tomorrow away from the slums.

No failures any more

Our other hero is Naresh Sir as the kids call him. He started out tutoring children in Maths at 7.30 in the morning on the roadside, just so their teachers in school would stop making fun of them and telling them that they were good for nothing. That was in 2002. When he heard that the Okhla Centre needed a maths teacher to teach the secondary students, he agreed to add this to his day. Today because of him, the children clear their board exams and can dream of reaching for the stars.

Twist in the tale

But unfortunately there is only so much that can be done with limited funds and today the Okhla centre which has 350 students is in danger of closing down. 

They need an interim relief of about ₹ 5 lakhs to give them time to find a sustainable source of funding.

Can you help them get their happily ever after?

Will you be their Valentine and gift them this time? All it will take is a small donation on your part and sharing this with others so that we reach our goal and make this a Valentine’s Day to remember.

Here is the link to help save the school:

Bloggers help please!

A special request to the Bloggers family to come together in a blogathon to support this fundraiser aptly named Valentine’s Day Blogathon . Show the love, Save a school. Find out how  you can make a difference here.

Let’s make it a Happy Valentine’s Day!

13 Replies

  1. Sad, especially knowing how much is spent by governments on free public education in the United States, where some (not all) students are disengaged and bored, many teachers are underpaid and underappreciated, and pay for supplies out of their own pockets and many students “graduate” but are functionally illiterate. I would bet that what I pay in school taxes (part of taxes charged on homeowners go to education) in one year would allow this school to continue.

  2. Thank you for telling us about Project Why. When I read about the kind of work that is being undertaken, I feel awe that the people who are doing the most are not the wealthiest in terms of money, but those who are the wealthiest in love.

  3. Thank you Sunita for telling Sophiya’s story in such a beautiful way. She and all the Project Why teachers have been my masters in unconditional love. Thank you for being part of this beautiful way of celebrating love

  4. Thank you Sunita for telling Sophiya’s story and the story of all the wonderful teachers who need our help. They have taught me so much. much more than what life taught me for half a century. They are truly heroes that remained unsung till now. Thank you for being part of this love story

    1. While most of us sit at home and bemoan the state of our country, our children, our educational system, these are the people who are actually going out there and making things happen.

  5. Thank you for this beautiful, beautiful post Sunita. I met all these lovely people last week, and was in tears. I can’t believe that despite not being privileged with many resources, they’re willing to work without a salary till the time it is needed. I don’t think I’d have the largeness of heart required to do such a thing. Thanks for talking about them!

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