When we started Aarohana EcoSocial Developments 5 years back, the purpose was to spread this message of ‘EcoSocial’ development to all parts of the country. My partner, Nandan Bhat and I travelled the length and breadth of India; we went to Kashmir, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, ofcourse Maharashtra and Dadra Nagar Haveli (where we now have our workshops) and many more places. We didn’t just travel leisurely, but took up surveys, impact studies, implemented some grassroot level projects; all in the areas of Sanitation, Education, Livelihoods, Health, Waste management, Water conservation and a lot more. The first 2 years were filled with curiosity and an urge to learn and understand the current status the society and the environment were dealing with. We worked with all kinds of people, villagers and urban dwellers, tribals and non-tribals, rich and poor, young and old! But guess, who were the most receptive and reactive of all? Yes, CHILDREN and YOUTH! No matter which state, which religion or caste, which gender, children and youth were the most receptive. They understood what we were saying; without any bias or prejudice. That’s the difference, elders are biased against a particular group of people, religion, caste, geography, political party and so on. But children are so pure. They are the closest to existence that we can get. If nurtured well, they can be our ONLY messengers into the future!
When I was a kid, the whole of concept that plastic is not good for our environment was sown into my mind by my science teacher. She might not even be aware what she had done right now, but I am thankful to her for this incident: I was in my 8th grade, studying in Silvassa, when I had participated in a science seminar contest, where we were to present on the topic of Waste Management. These were days before the internet, so researching was spending time reading books in a library, or spending time interviewing other learned people. We also didn’t have easy access to computers to create powerpoint slides nor projectors to display them. So, the entire lecture was handwritten and the chart were also created by sketching manually. It was lots of effort, and my seminar was also unique and appreciated by everyone. Most importantly, it was a changing point in my life, where I realized what plastic and other non-biodegradable material were doing, and if not handled on time, are bound to create a havoc! I stopped taking polythene bags from shops. They would be surprised as to what was wrong with this kid! The funny part is, even today I do the same to shopkeepers and they wonder, what is wrong with this woman!! 😀 I only wish that their childhood would have been as impactful as mine!
At Aarohana EcoSocial Developments, we started our UPCYCLING project 3 years back, and believe me, since the very beginning our largest supporters have been children and students across all age groups. They have collected waste for us, generated awareness about not using disposable plastic, not creating waste and in-fact, making their parents switch to greener alternatives such as using Aarohana’s upcycled-handwoven products. Our office workshops are also very popular with a younger age group, as they are always keen to learn.
The most recent example is of the students from St. Michael’s Ahmednagar, who collected loads of plastic from their classmates, packed it very efficiently, and brought it to our doorstep in Pune. Their teachers and the Principal were to their support all this while. And now, they have even planned an event in their school, where they all plan to sell our products to visitors. We are so proud of them for taking this bold step. Below are some pictures from their visit to our office.
So, if you are parent, teacher or an adult, please make sure to you create situations where your children or students or any child around you, is positively impacted. First, you yourself spend some time reading about conscious and sustainable living, and make these experiences available for them. Instead of teaching them through lectures, let them learn and grow with such experiences. Their mind is like a huge sponge, which absorbs what they see, hear and experience! You are more than welcome to visit us at our Pune workshop!
If you are a child, reading this blog, then you are on the right track already! 🙂