It is Diwali time. At Project’s Why special section the last weeks have been buzzing with activity. Everyone is busy making Diwali ware for the various Diwali sales they will be participating in. On the menu: Diwali diyas (earthen lamps), candles, shagun envelopes (envelopes in which gift money is given), torans (door and wall hangings), bangles and earrings and much more. Making hand-painted diyas has been something we have been doing for almost two decades but as the years passed we honed our skills and for some years now have been participating in Diwali sales.
Come September and the staff goes on a big shopping spree to old Delhi to get all the material needed and then it is production time. This year the special needs souls have their own workshop thanks to the generosity of a dear friend and two brand new supervisors: Geetu and Shalini are now gainfully employed and lead the team under the gentle supervision of their teachers. Geetu and Shalini are our oldest students who have graduated to being supervisors and taking home their own salary. A very proud moment for them. Their dedication to work is laudable and we feel very blessed at seeing them in their new roles.
Everyone participates in the Diwali sale preparations. From the youngest to the oldest! Little Kunal loves painting the divas and does so with extreme concentration: a delight to watch. Umesh who can be a handful is an adept at making shagun envelopes and does so with seriously. Shalini is very good at making bangles. All children participate according to their skills. Geetu manages the work with the help of Ashish. What began many years ago has a fun activity for the children has now become a serious affair and a step towards sustainability. This year we participate in several sales at corporate offices and in a school but are aim is to be able to get corporate orders. With the help of Damyanti and Sanchita we hope to be able to do so next year.
The diyas painted by the special needs children – they remain children for me – have always held a special place in my heart. The one painted by Manu almost a decade ago still sits on my desk. I remember the year where there were no orders and Shamika and her team were crestfallen. In those days the money earned was used to have a big Diwali party with gifts for all! Painting diyas made these special kids feel that much more special. You may not be able to walk, talk or hear but you can paint diyas! That is why we continued the tradition and now want to take a further step into the big world. We hope and pray we get there.
The special needs children of Project Why are an incredible lot. They deserve all the love and joy they can get for shining despite the barriers they have faced from society. They deserve their place in the sun.
My debut novel You Beneath Your Skin was shaped at Project WHY and Nikhil, a boy with autism is an part of the narrative. While the novel shows the sometimes-fraught relationship between mother and special-needs son, at Project WHY we have much more cheer, and positivity.
(Check out the book, and drop it a brief review? It is doing well, but needs to have many more reviews in order to raise funds for Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks).
Do you have a special needs person in your life? How are differently-abled individuals in your community integrated into the fabric of your life? Would you like to help the Special Needs section at Project WHY in their Diwali endeavour?
Chip in a little–which will go a long way for these souls that have defied the odds in New Delhi to carve out a life for themselves. CLICK HERE TO DONATE.
A NOTE TO REGULAR READERS: The site will be moving to a new design soon, so the blog link will be the site link from now on, and there will be a tab for the blog. I’ll welcome all feedback on the new site design, and make any changes I can.
Anouradha is the descendant of an indentured labour and a freedom fighter, and the daughter of a senior diplomat. She travelled the world before settling in India.
A professor in French, an interpreter and a conference organiser, she found her true calling when she set up Project WHY in the year 2000.
She is a wife, and a mother not only to her two girls, but also to the scores of children whose dreams she holds in custody.
This post was the 24th installment of the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.