On the morning of December 19, 2016, I hosted another event as a part of my initiative, ‘People for Nature’. It was by far the best event that I have hosted (for me at least). Of course, I have only hosted three, two of them being nature walks, and I love looking at birds and their ‘weird’ habits (‘weird’ to humans…I guess?), but this one was mind blowing.
First, let me tell you, my readers, what this event was about, and why I did it. While I was looking out of my bedroom window after I woke up, wondering what to do that day, I saw a man walking with a packet of chips, munching away happily. My stomach rumbled with hunger as I watched him munch on his chips. But the rumbling stopped immediately after what I saw him do next- Looking as happy as he did while he was munching, he carelessly threw the empty packet on the middle of the street and walked away. This made my blood hot. Boiling hot. With anger. I took a deep breath to keep myself from screaming at the man (Honestly, even if I had, he wouldn’t have heard me, as I live on the eleventh floor). Behind him, I saw three government school children walking to school hand in hand, in their blue uniforms, the empty plastic cover on the middle of the street not bothering them. Why would it? This is the kind of environment they’re being brought up in. This is all considered normal to them. They have probably littered too, and will probably do so for their entire lives. Wait. No. They can be taught otherwise, can’t they? Yeah, why not?
So, I planned to involve children from the same government school to help me clean up the street they walk on everyday to get to school, which is also the street that I see from my bedroom window. As I sat thinking of how to do this, my thoughts wandered to how if it all worked, I’d be seeing a clean street whenever I looked out of the window, rather than a dirty one. This got me more motivated. I also hoped that this would prompt the school and its staff to hold regular ‘cleanathons’ ( as I like to call it), in order to teach the children an important lesson about littering and to teach them that it is morally wrong.
Well, it all happened like I wished it would. The principal agreed on holding regular cleanathons, and in return we agreed to leave behind all the cleaning materials that we bought for the main cleanathon, so that the children could use those same materials whenever they clean.
Okay, now, for the mind blowing bit. I was amazed at the way the children behaved. I had expected them to be unruly and ill-mannered (don’t get me wrong. I have never in my life interacted with this stream of people), but in real it was the complete opposite. I had never seen such discipline in my life before (except maybe in the armed forces, that emphasize discipline like no other). Plus, when I was handing out hand gloves and face masks, each and every one of them said “Thank you Didi” ( Didi meaning elder sister in Hindi), with those cute smiles that make you like a person instantly. This was an humbling experience! Children of a similar age, going to their normal, expensive schools don’t have the kind of discipline and manners that these government school children had. Moreover, I did not expect the children to clean with so much enthusiasm. I found some of the kids cleaning even during their milk break (that was after three hours of cleaning, and mind you, in the hot sun) while I was sitting under a tree, too tired to even move.
This enthusiasm proved contagious. A large corporation working on a construction project in the neighborhood came forward to help us clear the garbage and level out the little road using their road roller. I am truly thankful for this unexpected support that came our way.
This entire event has brought up my hopes for the future. We, the students of this era, are the future of our country, and the future of our planet. We must all take an oath for a cleaner earth, like I did today with the government school children. It was an amazing experience working with them, and I hope to work with them many more times.
I would like to thank my Grandfather and his friends, who helped me and provided support at every stage, including coordinating with the principal to get their participation; this event would not have been possible without their help. Thank you,also, to my brother Gautam for capturing these amazing moments on camera.
This initiative was my little contribution to our Prime Minister, Mr.Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. I have taken my pledge towards a Swachh Bharat. Have you?