Kids assemble in the Gubbi Learning Center on Sundays, from the nearby villages some as far out as 18 Kms. The subject matter for today’s session was Environmental Awareness. In the spirit of keeping the sessions participatory, the day kicked off with a quick warm up session with kids sharing their ‘guri’ or goal in life- (‘guri’ is Kannada for goal). The energy that was pouring out of each of them when their turn came to share their life ambition was inspiring- names complete with the details of initials followed by stellar dreams- lots of aspiring doctors, engineers, policemen, army men, district collectors, with only one aspiring dancer, teacher and very interestingly only one software engineer!

With the projector and other required paraphernalia in place, we were now ready for the show. The volunteers had prepared a packed day’s schedule for the kids. The kids were first shown a 30-minute educational video on the Earth, its composition, the layers of the atmosphere, the geographical features, how seasons work, how the continents came to be, etc.

The Earth video was followed up by a brief 5-minute video from the BBC Planet Earth series, showing earth and Mother Nature in all its glory. To make an impact, a discussion supported by a ppt was conducted in quick succession. The presentation was a slide show interspersed with Audio-Visuals. The presentation on human’s encroachment and abuse of the nature’s bounty struck a chord with the kids. Focusing on how rapid urbanization has impacted the flora and fauna around us, topics such as killing animals from leather tanning, hunting for pleasure, animals living in wild losing their homes due to deforestation, were discussed. The children were already aware of how deforestation aids to pollution, vehicles add to global warming, and adversely impact the environment, and generously contributed to the discussion. The children’s collective, heart-felt sighs during the video on elephant and tiger poaching was moving.

The motive of the presentations was not to just inform the children of the adverse impacts of human activities on nature or merely reinforce related concepts. But more importantly, to show them that as consumers of basic infrastructure such as electricity, vehicle of transport benches in the school, we humans, every one of us, contribute to afore mentioned pilferage. To demonstrate this, we used the example of tiger poaching. Tiger poaching can be perceived as an alien concept and an elitist problem by many, to which a Gubbi resident might not directly contribute. But what about the men who walk around Gubbi with the two ostentatious Tiger teeth hanging round their neck as pendants. This brought the Tiger extinction problem closer home to the kids. Further, it was reinforced that each one of us can make a big difference by doing our small bits by turning off the lights when leaving a room, fixing broken faucets, saying NO to leather and ivory products. It is important for children to realize the role they and their town play in the scheme of things. That is important to be a role model and do the right thing, and not give in to peer pressure, such as dumping garbage where others already have when you know it is not the assigned area. The children pledged to do their role in saving the environment by planting a sapling at their home.

After this we broke for lunch amidst much ruckus, as expected.

Following lunch, the children were taught to make a bird feeder reusing old plastic water bottles. The idea of reusing old bottles tied in with the concept for the post-lunch session- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle- to lower each individual’s environmental impact. A demonstration of how waste from the kitchen can be used to make compost that can be used as manure was also given. The leftovers from lunch was used to fill an earthen clay pot during the demonstration. The children then wrote down how they can reuse, recycle and reduce in their own homes, in their daily lives. The bird feeder activity was juxtaposed with a discussion on sparrows and why we see no more of them. In one of the coming weekends, we will be showing a 90-minute video on sparrows of Bangalore and how they all went missing.

That was the close of the sessions planned for the day. The kids will come in to visit the Learning Center during the week to collect their drawing sheets and paint a picture of their ‘Dream Environment’. The drawings and paintings will be displayed at the Center.

We called it a day with a last 30-minute video on Bannerghatta National Park as a teaser for the kids’ upcoming trip to the park on the 10th of February.

Blog by Kirthana - Volunteer