Young World

Think for TOMORROW

Let’s clean up!

Sixteen-year-olds Arsh Mogre and Tanvi Nathwani have founded a sanitation programme that supports the UN Sanitation Drive campaign and meets ‘the goal of sanitation for all and end open defecation’. Beat that!

Called ‘Swachhalay’, it aims to “physically optimise” public toilets in Mumbai starting with those at the Kurla ST depot. The toilets that are in poor condition owing to lack of maintenance will be cleaned and regularly maintained by the team from Swachhalay. The group will also hire people to repair the plumbing and maintain it. For this purpose, they have also received the support of local MP Poonam Mahajan and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

“We learn about issues like sanitation and water management in school, but most of us don’t do anything about it. We wanted to incorporate our learning in real life and thus started the initiative,” says Tanvi, who handles Swachhalay’s social media. With just five members in April when it began, the campaign now boasts of 50 members. “I feel environment and sanitation are two of India’s biggest problems and they go hand in hand,” says Arsh who wants to join the civil services. 

MADHUMITHA SRINIVASAN in Mumbai

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Fighting for green

At 15, Mumbai-based Aishwarya Sridhar was the youngest awardee of Santuary Asia’s “Young Naturalist Award 2011”. Writer, photographer, campaigner and student — Aishwarya juggles many roles to keep her passion for conservation going. “The interest in wildlife happened because my father is a member of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and took me on nature trails when I was young. When I was 13, I saw a tiger up close at a national park, and there’s been no turning back since,” says the 19-year-old.

Aishwarya writes poems on conservation and wildlife, conducts birding tours and nature trails for children and also organises workshops on conservation and Earth Day celebrations in schools across Mumbai. “I have been organising Earth Day celebrations in schools under Sanctuary Asia’s banner for four years now. Here, we have poster and slogan writing competitions, then we watch a movie on wildlife and I have eminent personalities from the field coming to give a talk on different topics for the children. This young activist has also changed the lyrics of the ‘Why this kolaveri di’ song to a conservation song that can spread awareness.

ANUSHA PARTHASARATHY in Chennai

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A thought for Nepal

Last month, the world was busy sending love, help and prayers to Nepal. There were numerous efforts in Delhi too, and they reinforced our faith and hope in humanity. One in Delhi especially stood out, because it came from those who need help and support themselves. A group of street children, part of a federation of street and working children ‘Badhte Kadam’, a direct action initiative of the NGO CHETNA (Childhood Enhancement Through Training and Action), learned about the disaster wreaked on Nepal, and immediately decided to pool in their resources to collect funds for the country.

Saurabh, associated with Badhte Kadam and a reporter for “Balaknama”, a newspaper for and by street kids, talks about the reason behind the initiative. “When we heard about the earthquake, we were told of how so many kids were now homeless, living on the streets. It was a frightening thing to happen, and we wanted to help them the way we help each other here.”

And so, the children decided to collect donations from two areas in Delhi — Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar. “People are suspicious of frauds and sometimes they turn away such appeals. So we went with CHETNA representatives and teachers, and told them about CHETNA and Badhte Kadam, and what we wanted to do.” This helped, and they managed to collect Rs. 8,000 to send to Nepal; not a large sum objectively speaking, but a small fortune, if you consider the motive and effort behind it.

It is time, then, for us to give back a little to these kids, and to do that, CHETNA launched a new initiative on May 30. Sanjay Gupta, CHETNA’s Director, talks about “Gift your birthday to a Street Child”. “We usually celebrate our birthdays and we get gifts and feel special. Most of these children don’t know when their birthday is, and there is never any celebration.”

So CHETNA gives us the option of sharing our big day with a street child, of celebrating together, playing games and receiving gifts. The biggest gift is a Rs. 2000 contribution we can make towards one year of their education. The street children who are part of this initiative are the ones who also put their names on the cheque to Nepal. “What they did for Nepal was their way of giving back. This can be our way of saying “thank you”, says Gupta.

SWATI DAFTUAR in Delhi

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 8:03:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/think-for-tomorrow/article7282105.ece

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