ZZZZZZZZZ Wake up to Project Why

IMG_1087 copy
#ProjectWhy    #AtoZChallenge

The beggars and hawkers rest in the evening sun,
Their jobs done for the day,
The flyover and traffic lights their domain,
The stopped cars and rickshaws the target,
As they tap on the window,
Mournful expression, the honed and practice sad eyes,
Occasionally a baby in arms,
Always the same call and action,
Fingers shovelling to the mouth,
Khaana, khanna, khaana,
Eat, eat ,eat.
Some are genuine, some are controlled by crime gangs,
Most a have protected pitch,
Which means they have to pay someone,
Most are persistent and good humoured,
When I travelled to and from Project Why,
We would stop at the same junction morning and evening,
I would play cat and mouse with three young beggars,
I would try to photograph them,
They were very adept at dodging the camera,
The  unspoken understanding and smile told,
You give us nothing we give back nothing,
It was a game, they recognised the rickshaw,
Rarely bothered us,
When I was leaving to return to England,
I bought them Indian sweets call Gulab Jamun,
My favourite very sweet and sticky,
I ran through the mad Delhi traffic to reach them in the middle,
They were perched on a little concrete island inches from cars and buses,
I held out the box of sweets, no camera in hand,
The three youngsters looked puzzled,
Didn’t understand why this white Britisher,
Who never gave them money,
Was approaching them to give,
Rather than them putting on their sad show to beg,
Nonetheless they took the sweets ans scattered into the traffic,
I never saw them again.
These are the children Project Why exists for,
A reason it started, a differently-abled beggar,
Being taken advantage of and a physically abused,
He was taken under the wing of Project Why,
Given dignity and a reason to be happy.

This month of April, I have been taking part in The A to Z Challenge,
Every day except Sundays, writing a blog going through,
All the letters of the alphabet,
I chose to write each day about my time in India,
With a wonderful charity called Project Why,
They give education, welfare and work skills to children and women,
From the slums of south Delhi.
They all do an amazing job.
They have so much love, give so much love, receive so much love.
But love is not enough in these modern times,
They need regular donators.
To carry on their brilliant work.

Okhla School. The Project Why Oasis.

New Delhi 326

#ProjectWhy    #AtoZChallenge

Okhla, an area in south Delhi,
A vast industrial estate, slum area, rubbish tip,
As well as an incredible vegetable market,
Not least the mighty Project Why School.
Providing education to children from the surrounding slums.

To visit is like chancing upon an oasis,
Nestled between a simple temple shrine,
A recycling area and a railway.
Outside is dust, noise, trucks,
Inside is usually calm learning,
Unless everyone is dancing.

New Delhi 330
Life can be difficult in Okhla,
A lot of the lowest paid live here,
Rubbish collectors and sorters,
Piles of rubbish, dumped waiting to be sorted,
Line the roads, by the little shacks called home.

Delhi 2545

Fly tipping is rife and can be right outside these homes,
Where it is left just about forever,
Before it becomes part of the landscape,
Becomes overgrown or is built upon.

Delhi 2585
The people who live in these shacks,
Might have occasional electicity, purloined,
The do not have water though,
If there is a standpipe nearby it will rarely have water,
Most days but not every day,
A tanker of water will arrive,
A gift of life from the municiple government.
When the tanker arrives all hand rush to fill any containers,
Each family runs to join the scrabble.
Delhi 2582
These are the conditons of everyday life in Okhla,
Project Why provides education and support,
Welfare and help,
This is why,
Project Why.

 

 

 

Our Children need your help – Indiegogo campaign.

Project Why – helping the poor in Delhi.

Our Children need your help 

http://igg.me/at/projectwhy-children/x

Please help this charity I have worked with loads, they do fantastic work, especially their special needs section, for the poor who live in the slums of New Delhi. Every penny donated goes to help, not one penny is spent on admin, no paid managers etc. You can read all about them here and see some of the photos I’ve taken for Prpject Why here. The video below I helped produce.

Please click the links to Indiegogo to read all about their campaign – I’ve donated, please can you. Thank you.

http://igg.me/at/projectwhy-children/x

Don’t Forget : To be disabled is a misfortune, to be disabled and poor is a tragedy.

Jawaharlal Nehru Camp

Image

My very good friend Deepankar Vaidh with his wife and young daughter, outside of their home. It is two metres square, has no clean running water and no toilet. Water comes from a standpipe and the toilet is a communal shared with several hundred, maybe over a thousand, other residents. I had one of the best meals I’ve had and one of the most memorable evenings I’ve spent while at their home, as the sun set, neighbours came out onto their roofs and flew kites all around while huge golden dragonflies took to the skies also. It was magical.

Deepankar works very hard, usually more than one job and he is a very clever and able computer technician however because of his status and caste he doesn’t earn much. He tries to make as much money as possible so he can realise his dream – to move his family out of the slums and own his own meagre flat, it’s not much he wants really just a better start to life for his daughter than he has had.

He deserves it and so does his lovely family. I wish him luck in his dreams.

IMG_1032IMG_1175

 

 

Aerial view of the camp.

Video of nearby slum

No Crash Helmet.

No helmet 1
Mini adventure into the city of Delhi, sights, sounds, new and original, different and dangerous, normality and ordinary. Lajpat Nagar central market, a hive of little shops, market stalls and services, shop, eat and have tailoring done all at once. Dazzling colours, stacks of bright clothes, folds of golden-edged cloth, foods to fill every need piled high, household supplies layered in pyramids of glass and china, gleaming jewellery, glinting in the sun, hanging, lying, coiled, chains, bracelets, rings, bangles. Anything and everything, even a Charlie Chaplin.

no helmet 2

Amongst it all, workers re-fit shops still open, new signs hoisted over doorways while shoppers walk in and out and air-conditioning units dragged and balanced above heads on busy walkways. Struggles to raise a heavy unit, below men balance it on poles, too short, above men try to drag though out of reach, another man half way between tries push, ineffectively, with his feet. Those above laugh and shout at those struggling below, as groups of onlookers stand and watch the push-me-pull-me sit-com, each chatting of solutions to the stalemate.

no helmet 3

In the hot afternoon sun, legs beginning to tire, thirst growing, energy levels dropping, a welcome cold Kulfi seller, refreshes and revives the weary shopper. An Indian speciality like a mix between ice-cream and frozen yogurt, flavoured with pistachio, saffron or cardamom. Sweet, cold and  delicious.

no helmet 4

A cobbler by the roadside, outside the market, fixes shoes on a metal last, smooth and shiny through years of use, next to his box of tools, made from an oxymoronic sign, not an advert for his trade, an unintentional amusement.

no helmet 5

On the way home, time to spare, time to waste, time to wait, a trip to the Police Chowk to report the stolen wallet, only 5 days after the event but better late than never, a little protection from misuse of the driving licence. The police station is everything it would be expected to be, slow, laid-back, a little dirty and unkempt, deserted apart from a couple of cops behind a long desk upon which the only item is a huge tome, the station daily diary into which everything is written. Led to a room to sit and wait, and wait, and wait, as expected.

no helmet 6

At last an officer comes to register the theft, bringing with him  the station chai walla to serve tea, a nice surprise and treatment. The officer wonders why register the theft, in case the driving licence is misused, some protection in case,  to inform the authorities the theft of the licence was reported. He sighs, long and deep, contemplates for a moment, mumbles something in half-English, reaches for a blank scrap of paper and says write. He dictates the statement, word for word, and says the driving licence was lost. Hold on, hold on, the wallet was stolen. He is very reluctant to register a theft, gets very persuasive, still polite but insists it is best to say just the licence was lost from out of the pocket, not stolen, very difficult if stolen, many visits back to police station, much paperwork, many hours waiting. He is convincing, to hot and bored to argue, the statement is written about the LOSS of just the licence. The statement is whipped away, it will take half an hour says the officer and exits the room, left alone, waiting, bemused. A little while later a constable comes in, gestures to follow, that was quick, but no, he hands back the statement, leads outside, dons a helmet, straddles a Royal Enfield motorbike and points to get on. No helmet, a t-shirt and shorts, just a pair of sandals on feet, exactly the attire a conscientious rider has been told never to wear on a motorbike and certainly always wear a helmet, without fail. It is illegal in India not to wear a helmet on a motorbike, large fines are given to those spotted not wearing one. No matter it seems if you are travelling with the police, so astride a yellow and tan police motorbike, piloted by a uniformed constable, the heavy Delhi traffic is negotiated, at speed, side roads, whizzed down, blind corners cut, to who knows where, visions of trouble fly through a mind wondering where the journey is to, after all a false statement has just been given. Another police station looms, busy, many uniforms standing around, laughing, joking, the constable is grabbed as he dismounts and ejected by four officers, onto the street…oh its only a joke as its not his station. Led to another large desk with another large tome of station diary, the details are entered, again, after a few minutes an un-uniformed man asks to follow into a little back-room full of computers, this is where all details are entered onto the system. The man needs help to enter the details and make sure they are correct, it takes but a few minutes. Above the bank of computers is a sign ‘No sensitive crimes to be entered on the computer system, especially those involving children’. Seems a very strange thing to not enter, surely these are the crimes most importantly need to be entered, at best guess, probably, high level officers are wanting to make sure things are done properly and it is not their station labelled by the media as corrupt or not entering crimes correctly, at worse guess, perhaps,  someone high ranking doesn’t want these crimes entered at all, no attention or mistakes can be made if no crime is recorded. Which ever the reason, it is a strange notice to have posted.
Papers stamped, free to go, outside there is the police motorbike, lone, singular, but no constable to be seen to offer a lift back, even though he was hanging about for that exact purpose, no matter, another trip in the rush hour with no helmet is not really desirable. Fresh air is relief so a walk home in the late afternoon sun is welcome, pleasant even, past the busy traffic, along the flyover, beneath which the beggar families sit, lie or chat, the children play after their long day dodging cars and bikes in pursuit of a few Ruppees. Almost an idyllic scene, in the long shadows and amber sun, if it wasn’t a concrete island surrounded by filth, traffic fumes and deafening noise.

o helmet 7n