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Shamika: Gentle Leader of the Project Why Special Section #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.

Shamika was 9 when she told her mother, Anouradha Bakshi, that she wanted to work with special children. She had learning difficulties and faced a rough time at school. Shamika often returned late from school because she had helped an old lady with her bags and the lady of course had invited her for a cookie.

She valiantly struggled through school, giving it her best. But when she failed her Brevet des Écoles she was heartbroken and her mom took the unheard-of decision of telling her that she needn’t go to school again. The almost forgotten words of her 9-year old self came back and she knew what she had to do next.

Damyanti Biswas talks about the Nonprofit ProjectWhy In the slums of New DelhiThe next weeks were spent walking a part of the city that she was not familiar with, looking for organizations working with special children that would accept a school dropout who sees with her heart. One was found and Shamika, just about 15, began working with autistic children. The lady-in-charge had warned it would not be easy, but two weeks later she called to say that Shamika was a natural!

Shamika worked with children with autism for six years: she understood and loved instinctively. In 2003, she joined Project Why and has been there since.

There was a huge price to pay for Shamika’s decision of going against the well-worn script: school, college, university, preferably abroad, and then an overthe-top wedding. When you choose not to follow this, you’re almost ostracized.

Shamika, though not to be beaten, felt isolated and stopped going out.

But when she joined Project Why, she came into contact with a world that was more like the one she wanted to be in. She felt accepted, even valorized and no one held her status as a dropout against her.

Today Shamika runs Project Why’s special section with an iron hand and abundant love. The children adore her.

What would you say to Shamika Bakshi? Have you ever worked for or volunteered at a nonprofit? Do you have experience working with kids with special needs?

To Donate  TO THE Project Why special section, 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.

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