Nirmala V. K. and her band of students have worked to give the city a clean face
Like the Pied Piper, Nirmala V. K. leads and the kids simply follow. This teacher from Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir, Girinagar, set in motion a cleaning campaign in the city with a group of enthusiastic children in tow.
An initiative by Yi (Young Indians), enYiromend programme, which began last August had 50 schools involved in a host of awareness programmes like poster making, public speaking, jingle making, and innovation.
Most schools responded well. But when it came to serious campaigning for cleanliness in neighbouring colonies, the response was dull and weak.
But Nirmala, teacher co-ordinator for the initiative and her motivated contingent comprising students of classes four to eight went ahead with unflagging enthusiasm. “I was unsure of how the kids would respond to the idea of campaigning despite the presentations done by Yi. I made lots of calls to parents and talked to the kids about it. Many parents rejected the idea at once but we continued with our work. I formed groups and each group was led by a YiNET student, a college goer,” explains Nirmala.
The kids assembled over weekends, went to their neighbourhood, knocking on doors and explaining the residents the need to keep public spaces clean.
All the work was under the supervision of Nirmala, who must have made “hundreds of calls” to the children, their parents and the leaders of the group. It was this co-ordination, over three months, that paid off and her good work was showing the difference in clean colonies and a changed mindset.
“Children told me about uncles and aunties who were not so friendly at the beginning but very happy with them by the end of the project. Many of them gave the kids gifts as appreciation,” recalls Nirmala.
She explains that the security and safety of the kids was well-ensured. Today, for all her efforts, she has been conferred with two awards by the Yi Kochi Chapter and the kids with merit certificates.
The non-participation by many was never a dampener for her because of the unbridled enthusiasm and energy of the children. The numbers did not matter and whoever joined her in this were taken care off and motivated.
“Parents who were unsure in the beginning started changing their opinion. I had a parent call and tell me that her daughter who had gone to Mumbai wanted to get back in time for the weekend cleaning jaunt,” says Nirmala. She says that had it not been for the principal of the school and the teachers who agreed to send the kids, many during class hours, for the campaigning presentations this would not have been successful.
Today after making a small but effective difference she and her brood of social workers are thrilled. “There are over a hundred kids waiting to join in the next phase of the campaigning,” she says.
And she is looking forward to continuing the good work, having set in motion a community service that has made a visible difference to our lives.PRIYADERSHINI S.