I remember when I was a little girl in school, we would have speakers who would come and tell us about their work. On one such occasion, I got the chance of listening to an environmental engineer who was in the team that cleaned up Powai Lake in Mumbai. She took us through her experiences in cleaning the lake. She spoke to us about the environment and the world. She opened up our eyes to the apathy around us. She told us about the role we have to play. It really stirred something in all of us and surely inside me. Since that day, since I heard that story, I’ve felt responsible to reduce the indifference and apathy in whatever little way I can. There is so much more to do… But, every little counts.

So, it felt very satisfying, when I had the chance to tell a story for a cause that is dear to me with an audience which is so dear too, around ninety children from junior school and around thirty children from a middle school class, from the Parikrma School in Sahakaranagar, Bangalore.

On September 7th, I shared Cheekoo’s story, The Cloud of Trash, with the junior school kids and on the 11th in the middle school class as part of the Pratham Books Champions initiative, 2018. The children were very eager when they sat to listen to the story, which they usually are for all stories. I’m grateful to them for their enthusiasm in listening – Thank you children. (I volunteer at Parikrma where I share stories with children and am also trying to do my bit in implementing story based learning)

The moment I mentioned that Cheekoo was very sad because of the enormous cloud of trash above her head, their faces dropped. They were curious to know why all of this happened. And as the story unfolded, they shared experiences of when a friend dropped pencil shavings or bits of paper, in class, to which I responded and they agreed that we all make mistakes and that it’s best to correct our own mistakes and also gently remind our friends to work on theirs without name shaming.

They were happy at the moment when Cheekoo corrected Bala for the banana peel he was about to throw. There was a discussion around recycling and reusing when I mentioned what Cheekoo told Reena aunty. I spoke to them about upcycling and the minute they understood what it was, the children shared their experiences of craft activities in class using waste paper and other recycled materials. They were happy that the cloud above Cheekoo’s head was reducing in size. And were very happy to see Cheekoo smiling in the end.

The story ended with a conversation around our environment – clean and green. I mentioned that their uniform colours of blue and green are symbolic of this beautiful world, beautiful environment we live in. Teachers also addressed the children and told them about how it’s not just about littering in class or in the school compound or outside, but also about not wasting in the first place whether its food or other materials. Reduce!

We told each other that we would do our best to take care of our environment, not only because of the fear of the cloud of trash J  but, also because we love the world we live in.

The session ended with a fun song, holding hands.

We sang the Hindi song, “Hariyali idhar udhar” and the English version of the same song, “The green grass grew all round and round”…

The energy in the room left me feeling positive and thankful.

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