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Met Dharmendra, the Gentle Keeper of Project Why? #atozchallenge

By 05/04/2016April 14th, 2020atozchallenge, Project Why
For the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I’m blogging 26 days in April based on the alphabet and bringing you stories from the nonprofit Project Why.

Today,  I bring you a story of one of the most dignified, efficient and generous souls at Project Why, without whom I cannot imagine this nonprofit running the way it does today.

Dharmendra first came to Project Why in 2005, as a dedicated humanities teacher for the secondary section. But despite his quiet manner and almost effacing ways, it soon became clear that his true calling is that of a social activist. He began spending more time with the community, deep in conversation with a small child or an elder. Anouradha Bakshi, the founder of Project Why, found in him a soul mate and kindred spirit in her quest for effecting change.

Damyanti Biswas talks about Project Why and the wonderful work this small nonprofit with a large heart does in the slum communities of New DelhiFrom solving small issues like neighborhood water fights, handling the ranting of a bipolar soul, to convincing a parent to spare the rod, to setting up an entire center, Dharmendra does it all in his quiet inimitable style. When two desperate women landed at Project Why, it was Dharmendra who suggested a residential option as part of a new children and women center. In the span of a few weeks the Project Why Women and Children Center opened its doors and today works with over 300 children and 140 women. He also discovered the forgotten children of agricultural labor on the banks of the river Yamuna, and set up a center for them.

Damyanti Biswas talks about the nonprofit Project Why coordinator, Dharmendra and his journey towards education, a better life, and helping others.

Dharmendra at Project Why

Dharmendra runs a tight ship at the Madanpur Khadar center of Project Why and settles all issues with calm and dignity in an environment where fights break out over most problems.

What makes Dharmendra’s journey more remarkable is that he belongs to the Dalit community. Shamefully, in some parts of India Dalits are disrespected, and scorned. But Dharmendra has decided to stay positive, use his education as an asset, and share it with others. A first generation learner to obtain a degree, he was first employed with a multinational but soon felt stifled, because he wanted to make a difference. He’s done just that at Project Why!

I’ve worked with him twice now, and found him a joy to interact with: always smiling, gentle yet firm. He embodies Project Why: love, respect, candour, humour, and compassion.

To help him flourish, Project Why wants to send him to a course in Business English and Computer Literacy, which will cost about a 1000 USD.

 Would you like to support Dharmendra? Would you like to become a Project Why Ambassador? If you cannot make it to New Delhi, could you donate to bring a smile to a child’s face? What would you say to Dharmendra?

To Donate to Dharmendra’s COURSE FOR Project Why, CLICK HERE.
To Contact Project Why, Click Here

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Arlee Bird says:

    The voice of calm and reason is so important in keeping the peace within a community. Sounds like a gifted individual.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  • macjam47 says:

    A truly amazing and inspirational post. The world needs more people like Dharmendra.

  • Susan Scott says:

    am going to try to send a reply/comment Damyanti – which I did for this lovely man and for the next day’s one – thank you for sharing these inspiring posts of these wonderful people.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – people are amazing and Dharmendra really has pulled himself up with education, hard work, compassion … and now he’s helping so many others who are disadvantaged – an example for us all …

    And I didn’t know about the “Dalits” – sad … with thoughts Hilary

  • Mick Canning says:

    He sounds a wonderful person!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      He is, Mick. I hope you would consider spreading the word about the fundraiser for him, and donating a small amount. Project Why depends on the compassion of individual donors to further impact people. Dharmendra could help more people if he himself were better-equipped.

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    It’s wonderful to read about such an amazing soul!! Thank you for sharing their stories.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Rajlakshmi! Hope you would consider spreading the word about the fundraiser for him. Project Why depends on the compassion of individual donors.

  • seena2020 says:

    Glad to meet him. Always in awe of people who have the courage to get out of their comfort zone to help others.


  • Vidya Sury says:

    I am so happy to meet Dharmendra! It is individuals like these who make a real difference in lives. Thank you Damyanti!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      He does make a very real difference, Vidya. I hope we can raise the funds to send him for further studies.

  • xhobdo says:

    Thanks for your post 🙂

  • arpitadash says:

    Dharmendra is doing a great job. Thanks for sharing this… 🙂

  • Dipanwita says:

    He is doing a remarkable job and salute to him for that. Thanks a lot Damyanti for the share. I am glad that I stopped by your blog. will keep doing it. Would love to know more about Project why.

    Dipanwita from Cocktails, Mocktails And Life


    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Dipanwita. I appreciate the support. Please spread the word on Dharmendra so we can raise the money needed for further studies for him.

  • BellyBytes says:

    At some level I think all good teachers are activists at heart. Teaching opens up people’s minds and that brings about a change in society
    BellyBytes from
    Mumbai On A High

  • kalaravi16 says:

    What dedication and what integrity! Thanks Damyanti for introducing us to yet another remarkable human being. Dharmendra deserves all the support for the noble cause he is supporting. Best wishes.
    @KalaRavi16 from

  • Peter Nena says:

    He’s surely a paragon.

  • Birgit says:

    It’s such a shame that he can be shunned…not right. He has done a lot for this place and for the kids

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      It isn’t right. What makes it worse is that this practice continues in many parts of India.

  • Sunila Vig says:

    It is the stories of people like Dharmendra and the need they have to give to the society that bring so much hope in the goodness of humanity. Thanks Damyanti 🙂

  • Sounds like a wonderful person, thank you for sharing.

  • projectwhy says:

    I have always found it difficult to write about this dear colleague and do him justice. Damyanti has found the right words and done it in her inimitable style. Chapeau Bas!

  • authorsowmi says:

    Great personality. Exceptionally crafter piece.

  • Thank you for introducing us, another angel on earth!

  • He is clearly exceptional. There are few people made of this inner strength.

    He’s the kind of person who should adorn posters on walls, rather than the usual collection of well-paid superstars normally on bedroom walls.

  • Vinay Leo R. says:

    Such dedication is rarely seen, and he deserves the spotlight you have given him. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      He shines with his own inner light. It is my pleasure to share about him with the world. We hope to be able to raise the amount for his studies soon.

  • cleemckenzie says:

    What a fantastic man this is! So glad you’re giving him the recognition for his work.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I hope along with recognition we’re able to also give him the opportunity to learn more. Please help spread the word on raising funds.

  • fabulus1710 says:

    Dharmendra is truly a hero! It is a noble act to handle the issues of other people in an effective manner, and in a way that solves the issues peacefully.
    Sharing this post 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for the share! I hope his story reaches more people and they’re moved to donate to his cause.

  • I’m thankful for the work this man is doing.

  • That’s what matters most – finding a place where one can make a difference and use one’s real talents. Sounds like a remarkable man.

  • greyzoned/angelsbark says:

    What a beautiful man. Seems absolutely saintly! The organization is blessed to have him.

    Michele at Angels Bark

  • Estacious says:

    Beautiful story about a beautiful soul. As an educator myself, I understand his passion for his craft.

    A to Z challenge. com

  • jazzfeathers says:

    Remarcable man. Thanks so much for letting us knowing him 🙂

  • He does sound like an exceptional person. Project Why sounds like a worthy cause. I’m interested in learning more. I had no idea that there were programs for mental health issues like bipolar in these areas. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and making more of us aware. I will continue following your blog post and I am going now to check out how I can contribute.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Melissa, even a small amount makes a huge difference at Project Why, because it is totally no-frills, and the donated money goes to the recipients most in need, and not on advertising, etc.

  • Bushka says:

    Sounds like an exceptional gentleman….Super post! 🙂