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Friendship between an Indian child and a childish Englishman #atozchallenge

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 the story of an unlikely friendship which would not have happened if not for the wonderful nonprofit that is Project Why. Damyanti Biswas covers the Nonprofit Project why based in New Delhi India, for her A to Z Blogging Challenge in April 2016Jon’s first day at the Project was not the best. He possibly didn’t expect to share a flat with much younger volunteers, some quite a handful. The heat, the noise, the lack of direction made him want to pack his bags and leave. Enter Cat (read her amazing story at the C story for #atozchallenge) ! She spent time putting things in perspective and suggesting he give Project Why a chance. Why not begin with the Special Section?

The moment Jon entered the Special Section he met Munna and thus began an unlikely friendship between a young Indian slum kid with a cognitive impairment, and a forty-plus British theater actor. Munna loved the way Jon fooled around and Jon seemed to understand Munna’s incomprehensible communication.

Jon and Munna at Project WhyAny time Jon came into the room, Munna would shake his hand and not let go. The two would have long chats. In Jon’s own words: “We had  imaginary conversations of total gibberish which were full of expression and intonation like a real conversation between two adults, rather than an Indian child and a childish Englishman. These conversations might go on for 10 or 20 minutes, much to the amusement of onlookers, but Munna was very serious and seemed to express real meaning”.

The two bonded far more deeply than one could imagine, each caring for the other in their own inimitable way. Here’s Munna, in Jon’s words:

Damyanti Biswas covers the Nonprofit Project why based in New Delhi India, for her A to Z Blogging Challenge in April 2016“Sometimes Munna would come up to me and look deep into my eyes, or rather deep into my mind, as if searching for something. I got the feeling he was making sure I was alright. Munna might appear to most people to have intellectual disabilities or the like, but the tricks he used to play on me, the games he played on and with me, showed me he was quite clever and very observant of people. He was and always will be a very special friend and he is now a gentle and caring young man who I’m proud to be friends with. In the photo here, Munna is wearing my sunglasses which he always liked to try on and look cool. I trusted him with them and not once did he ever drop them or even scratch them. 

I’ve met Munna, and some day, I hope to meet Jon, the wonderful Project Why Ambassador, and watch the celebrated friendship in action. I wish we could understand Munna’s words for Jon, but maybe now all of us can make a very good guess. We humans have one spirit. When a spirit talks to another, friendships happen, because in the way of the heart, there are no boundaries.

Have you ever volunteered with special needs kids? 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 Jon and Munna? How are the schools for special needs kids structured where you live?

To Donate to The Special Section of Project Why, Click Here.
To Contact Project Why, Click Here

Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page if you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the SUBSCRIBE button in the sidebar. The daily posts are only for April: I’m doing 26 posts on the fab nonprofit Project Why for my A to Z Challenge.

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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  • Saba says:

    I loved the relationship Jon and Munna shared and the way it is articulated, undoubtedly these kids have something very special which generally we found missing in all of us,

  • Thanks for sharing these stories.

  • tinabasu says:

    What a wonderful story Damayanti!
    Tina From
    The Sunny Side of Life
    Twinkling Tina Cooks

  • Sweet, wonderful, beautiful story. Munna’s smile is just radiant; I’m so glad he found a friend and mentor in Jon. What an awesome charity and people you’re featuring in April, Damyanti—please keep it up!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Project Why is indeed an awesome charity! Please consider sharing the post or sending them a donation in support of al their wonderful efforts.

  • Susan Scott says:

    well, that brought a tear to my eye and an expansion of my blood corpuscles. Thank you Damyanti for this very special story of friendship.

  • aj vosse says:

    Gosh… these tales are so uplifting! I look forward to the next… and the next and the next! (I don’t want to say the obvious… I wish I could do something to help… but as you pointed out in yesterday’s post… one can help from afar by raising awareness and funds! I will try!!)

    • I do hope you help us raise both :). Project Why impresses me because almost all of the donor money goes towards beneficiaries. The teachers and managers have risen from the community instead of being brought in from outside, and that’s a valuable but very tough commitment to make. Fundraising is tough when the org doesn’t believe in ads, but word of mouth instead.

      • aj vosse says:

        You know… I have an idea brewing. I have a friend who was adopted in India by British/ Irish parents. He has quite a story to tell. The woman he calls his mother is actually not even the woman who adopted him but his adoptive father’s second wife! He’s really cool about it all. I have a feeling if I speak with him and a few other Indian folk here in Ireland (play cricket with my son) we may get something going!! Give me a few weeks… 😉

  • Shalzzz says:

    What an incredible theme! I’m so glad that I found these inspiring stories.

  • Jayanthi says:

    inspiring post damayanti keep it going

  • Peter Nena says:

    “When a spirit talks to another, friendships happen, because in the way of the heart, there are no boundaries.”

    That summaries it for me.

  • What a great theme, Damyanti! My daughter has found her passion, working with non-profits. Prior to her current job, she worked in a group home for mentally disabled adults. It’s challenging, potentially rewarding, and so very needed work.

  • Your posts for April are so touching and enlightening. It is a challenge for the volunteers to work with a shortage of basic supplies and needs, but I admire their devotion to share their love and support for Project Why. The children’s personal situations are so sad, but I am glad they are getting the attention they deserve.

  • thomas4243 says:

    This is a lovely story. I’m glad you comments on Ollie’s page so I could discover yours.

  • Shawn Yankey says:

    As a parent with special needs children your post really hit home. I thank you for sharing such a great story. It was truly inspirational.

  • cleemckenzie says:

    The people you’re telling us about deserve the spotlight, and I bet they never seek it. The word selfless comes to mind. Thanks so much for these posts.

  • Thank you for this wonderful story. I’ve never volunteered with young kids, specifically, but I did travel to Honduras and volunteered in a hospital for 10 days. The conditions were horrific. (There was a rat in the nurses station, for example.) But even though many of the people I saw are extremely poor (living in cardboard shacks in the mountains) they had smiles on their faces. Americans are so spoiled. More Americans need to volunteer in impoverished areas to gain some perspective and to stop being so self-centered.

    Piper Presley
    Fiction: Blogging From A to Z

  • jdubj says:

    Thank you for your kind words Damyanti, i hope to meet you too one day. Munna is indeed a special friend. I have so many stories of my time with him. Project Why changed me forever and I am a better person for it.

    • And, we consider ourselves better because of your presence at the Project. Even when you aren’t with us in person we know you are with us in spirit. We look forward to your return!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      One day, Jon. I’m planning a trip later this year, and when I’m there, I hope to try and blog about my experiences as often as I can.

  • projectwhy says:

    this is a wonderful post that reflects what project why is all about

  • This is wonderful! Really enjoying these stories. Best wishes to you in your work!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks. I’m moved by these people and this project. And I’m hoping to share as much of them as I can this month.