Society

Campaign for a cause

STREET SMART: To create awareness on mosquitoes that spread diseases. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: mamp19drama

Vanthanam, Vanthanam, Vantha Sanamellam, Kunthanum, Kunthanum…,” A. Vel Pandi, Std V student of Dr. T. Thirugnanam Primary School, and his fellow students invite residents of the Keezhasandhaipettai locality to watch the play on dengue and how to tackle mosquitoes that spread the disease.

After two rounds of song and Oyilattam dance, the play opens with children defecating in open and an elderly lady advises them to use public toilets. Brushing aside her pleas, the children move towards the river bank and continue with their routine. She gets worried and explains them the ill effects of open defecation. They finally agree to use toilets and take a vow not to defecate in open spaces. Now, the attention is directed towards the audience and Velpandi asks people how many of them use public toilets and persuades them to do so.

The children sing “ Kosu!, Kosu!, Kosu!,…Viyadhi parappume Kosu!, Kosu! Kosu! Kosu!.. Kaichal Tharume Kosu!” (Mosquitoes spread disease and they are the primary cause for the fever).

In the second scene the performers explain how stagnant water collected on empty coconut shells and car tyres become a breeding ground for disease spreading mosquitoes and ask the audience to keep their surroundings clean to prevent any disease spread in the locality.

Before embarking on this project, the children did a detail survey of number of public toilets in the locality and went on a door to door campaign compelling people to use toilets. “In a week’s time my students were able to bring about a change in the mindset of the people. They have contacted the local body authorities and opened the public toilets which were not in use. They have also arranged for regular cleaning,” says K. Saravanan, Headmaster of the school and director of the play.

“I wanted to involve my children in the play as it is a good learning process for them. Mere classroom learning will not suffice and they get to learn a lot when they move out of the school. We have a lesson on mosquitoes that spread diseases. Active participation will help the children to learn the subject better,” he says.

“Acting has helped me gain confidence. Initially I was reluctant to act. But this experience has given me enormous strength to fight for a good cause,” says Velpandi.

Street plays are a wonderful platform to connect with the people and that is what attracted Saravanan, a trained street theatre performer, to involve his students to get connected with people. “It is an excellent communication tool to understand the problems of the people and help them come out of it. This also helps in grooming the students as socially responsible citizens and when they grow up they will be able to connect with the people easily. The school management has also helped us. Without any support from outside we have managed to stage this play,” says Saravanan.

As part of the curriculum, he frequently takes his students to places that are featured in the subject. He took them to Maduai Dairy to understand food processing and protection and to World Tamil Sangam to know more about Tamil kings of Sangam period and their achievements and the five different land forms.

“The 30-minute play has made me to think and now I follow what I have preached,” says P. Pirabhavathi.

The team has staged the play in five places in and around Keezhasandhaipetti and in the areas along the Vaigai River bank including Obula Padithurai and Munichalai junction.


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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 8:45:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/Campaign-for-a-cause/article16667506.ece

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