Who's your Hero? #India #ProjectWhy

Everybody needs heroes. And I’ve needed mine– I just had to wait around to find her, way into my adulthood. Today, I’m talking about her on Daily (w)rite as my contribution to the Who’s Your Hero Blogfest.

Anouradha Bakshi NGO India
Anouradha Bakshi: My Hero from Project Why

Joy Campbell is running the Who’s Your Hero Blogfest today on her blog: Post approximately 300 words about someone who has encouraged or inspired you. Your hero may be a friend, spouse, teacher or writing buddy.

I love my friends, adore my spouse, have tremendous respect for some of my teachers and writing buddies. But the person I want to write about is someone I’ve met for a very short time in real life, but who’s had a huge impact on my way of thinking, my attitude to the world around me.

Her name is Anouradha Bakshi, the founder of Project Why, an organization that works in the slums of New Delhi. Lots of such organizations are doing good work, so what’s special about Anouradha and Project Why?

Project Why works with the slum children and women from within the slums by empowering the slum community. Some of the teachers were once maids, who got an education at the Pwhy, and are now teaching the kids from the slums. Others are helping to manage the project and run it. Yet others work as drivers, who ferry the kids and teachers from one learning center to the other. A Project Why team member’s family helps cook the midday meal for the creche kids. Most of the education given to about a 1000 kids from creche to secondary levels is free, as are the courses on sewing, and other skills for women. One of the schools is literally situated in the middle of a dustbin, because that’s where a majority of the kids who attend it, live.

Visiting this school, as I did this month, is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

All this is supported by donors touched by Anouradha’s way of thinking– “Seeing with the Heart

Where others see a burden in a disabled person (a common sentiment in many parts and social strata in India) she saw God’s own children. The Special Section, which I visited on my recent trip to New Delhi is poorly equipped, but full of love, as is the rest of the Project.

Project Why Kids, Doll Museum New Delhi
Day out with the kids at Project Why at the Doll Museum, New Delhi

Anouradha insists on spending most of the donations received on the kids and the women, finding innovative ways to cut corners on overheads. One of the centers uses a solar panel donated by a businessman introducing their use in India– and the water system is donated by a visiting school.

Tying all this is together is Anouradha’s compassionate yet indomitable spirit: you can’t help but be touched by the smiles she brings on the faces of so many people, with such honesty, kindness, and willingness to move on despite tough circumstances. (Her honesty, and her unwillingness to make a circus of the slum dwellers makes it difficult for her to raise funds– donors sometimes come in with cameras trying to pose the kids of the Special Section for public relations exercises, or to exploit them for publicity.)

Inspired by her, I try to look at the world around me with the eyes of the Heart, to understand, empathize, relate, build community, spread joy, in whatever small way I can. Not that I’ve succeeded, far from it– but I’ve made a start. I’ve been a contributor of sorts for years, and now, I’m trying to help get their social media and online fundraising efforts off the ground.

We need more heroes like Anouradha Bakshi. To my mind, though I can never become the hero she is, maybe I can learn and become a better person each day.

Who are your heroes? How long have you known them? Would you like to join in the Who’s Your Hero Blogfest, or just talk about your heroes in the comments? Would you like to support Anouradha Bakshi in her efforts?

UPDATED to add: Please help support Anouradha Bakshi and her children by donating as little as 1 Euro or a Dollar.

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !


Add Yours
  1. Aanya

    “Her unwillingness to make a circus of the slum dwellers”
    Sadly this is true in today’s selfie-obsessed society. People help less and advertise more. And in all this mess, an act which should have been unselfish loses its meaning.
    Kudos to Anouradha Bakshi and Project Why team.

  2. Birgit

    It just confirms, to me, how 1 person can make a change in the world. We are inspired by these people and it is a blessing these people exist

  3. heelariious

    Thank you for sharing something about such a great personalty ! She’s something you know, so much courage and kindness ! Very rare to find people like her, I am glad I got to know about her :))

  4. lexacain

    Anouradha is truly a hero! Thanks for the Project Why story and pics – they warmed my heart too. 🙂

  5. Leila A. Fortier

    I traveled to India in 2007 to live and work for 3 months in the slums of New Delhi. The experience forever changed me–bringing home my love for advocacy and humanitarian aid. I long to return to India! I left my heart there. Thank you for posting this. Namaste~

  6. jdubj

    Anouradha Bakshi is my hero(ine) too, she was and still is an inspiration to me and so many others. Project Why, the charity she founded, is an amazing organisation helping those who live in the slums of Delhi. I would encourage anyone to volunteer there, even for just a few weeks, and meet the inspiring Anou, her family and the other workers of the charity and those it helps. Spending time there changes lives, both for those who visit and those it helps. Anou is an example to all of selflessness and caring.

  7. Jacqui Murray

    I think I have a new hero too, Damyanti. Well-chosen. If I had one of those posters–What I see of myself vs. What others see of me–she’d be the former.

  8. Michelle Wallace

    Such an inspirational post. She sounds like an amazing person.
    As I mentioned in my post, it’s easy to underestimate the power of one person’s influence. The truth is that each of us wields far more power than we could possibly imagine. However, most of us have never discovered this—or we have forgotten it.
    Thank you for sharing and for participating in the Hero Blogfest!

  9. naoko idesawa

    I also know her and she is MY hero, too. She is so energetic and honest. And I strongly recommend those who’re interested in her Project Why to actually visit her and see for yourself how the projects are working.

  10. Susan Scott

    Inspiring post Damyanti thank you. Bless all those who not only try but succeed in uplifting their communities feeding and teaching them skills to use and pass the service on when they are in a position to do so.

  11. dolorah

    The only way to change a community is from within. She seems to be inspiring many of the residents, and that is a heroic feat in itself. An amazing woman.

  12. pattyalcala

    The beautiful women that you chose for your hero sounds like an angel. I am inspired by what you have written about her. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Leigh W. Smith

    I don’t know who I’d chose, but I like your choice, Damyanti. I can’t even imagine seeing such suffering and poverty and how saddening (yet uplifting) it would be to go into that situation and work. Ms. Bakshi is, indeed, a hero.

  14. pavanneh

    She sounds like a wonderful woman. Someone I could definitely admire and would love to meet someday. So glad you shared her mission with me.