By Community Correspondent: Harriet Page. After my recent trip to India I have realised what a small amount of time can change these children’s lives forever.

In the midst of the slums of New Delhi Project Why has grown and flourished. It was all started by a woman named Anou. She found Mannu a mentally and physically disabled man. He was treated like an animal, he was beaten by his parents and thrown out onto the street where people fed him like you would feed an animal .She took him in and nursed him soon other parents brought their disabled children to her for respite. It is here that I spent some time.

Project Why runs along side the government school supporting the children with their studies, however they get no government help. They run 2 creches, a disabled section, a prep class, a foster care programme, 3 primary school classes, a junior secondary and senior secondary classes and a women centre which also includes primary classes. As a consequence of the amount of children in Delhi and the surrounding areas the schools are overcrowded. There are almost always understaffed so not getting the education the children need for a good start in life. The supplies are not plentiful. Whilst I was looking down on the government school I could see children using the side alley as a toilet as there are no working toilets. This is all despite the fact that the children only have a half day, girls in the morning and boys in the afternoon.

Therefore Project Why run their primary and secondary classes to reinforce what the children learn in school and teach them computer and life skills. However trying to do this costs money. For example it costs around £32 (2,000 rupees) per month to rent a room for a class, this room is 4 metres by 2 metres. You may be thinking this is not an enormous amount of money in the UK however this is about double the amount an average worker would earn in a month in the area. As Project Why receives no extra help and relies on donations they need all the help they can get.

Project Why not only helps children in the local area but also the local women. In the women’s centre there is a residential unit which can hold up to four women. There is currently one woman living there at present. She is a recovering alcoholic. Anou (the founder of Project Why) explained to me that if you are an alcoholic in a slum people treat you like a form of entertainment, while you are drinking locals will quite happily pay for your drink. However as soon as you want to stop drinking there is no help available to you. Even your family and so called friends refuse to support you. At the women’s centre I helped in a class that is teaching the teachers at Project Why English. As the children at Project Why learn English the teachers also need to have a thorough understanding of the language. By teaching them English they can teach the children therefore making the children better at English. Whilst I was at the women’s centre I also met the year 5 girls. These girls are the happiest class I worked with. They were constantly full of life. They were determined to show me their dances and their school work. They even made Diwali candle pots for me to help paint. These children who have no belongings and hardly any money are still happy. It just shows that money and belongings aren’t everything in life.

There was one boy in the creche who just sat there. He didn’t smile he didn’t look up he didn’t stand up as he couldn’t support his own weight. This little boy also has a brother who is in the disabled section as they think they both have a genetic disability. Project Why took them to see the local doctor to see if he knew what was wrong with him. He said that the little boy had rickets. Anou didn’t think that this was enough so she was going to take him to see her private doctor and was prepared to pay for him to go. However the mother, who helps out at Project Why forgot to bring the paperwork. This meant that the boy couldn’t go and see the doctor that day. Anou was going to try and take him the day after I left if the mother brought in the right paperwork. I haven’t heard what has happened yet. But this just shows how far everyone at Project Why is prepared to go to help the children at the centres In the disabled section of the project I met Preeti who is a mentally disabled young girl. Preeti is one of the most loving people I have ever met. She took great pride in her work that she has done at Project Why and was constantly showing it to me. You would think that no one would want to hurt this loving woman. However her Grandmother thought differently. One day Preeti brought her lunch into Project Why. It was a piece of crumpled newspaper with a few pieces of rice held together with an orange congealed substance. Shamika (one of the woman who runs the Project) took it off her exclaiming that she should not eat it. They later found out the substance was rat poison. We ask ourselves why would she do this? She possibly did it because it is so hard for people running their daily lives to look after a disabled person as it is hard enough surviving themselves.

You can’t help but be touched by these children who would seem to have no future but are happy and hopeful. Money is important but sharing your interest and spending time with them is the most valuable thing you can give. If you would like more information please go to: