Life Skills Training for village children and youth

Dyuthi – Peace Gong Reporter, Bamboo Village, Waynad, Kerala

Wayanad, a land mixed with a varied population of tribes, migrants, people belonging to Karantaka and Tamilnadu as well as from all corners of Kerala is hotspot for tourists as it features a few of the most enchanting places to visit in the state. However, due to its geographic, socio cultural and political environments Wayanad lag behinds in most developmental areas including education based on realistic life enriching vision. As a result, we the students of AFRC INDIA who are trying their level best to spread the movement of Shishu Panchayat and Peace Gong in Kerala decided to learn life skills, not from our classroom and text books, but venturing out to the world outside. I, invited my peer group to my beautiful village we call Bamboo Village, an ideal typical Kerala Village.

After the formation of Wayanad Shishu Panchayat MFB (Micro Finance Bank) it was decided in a meeting that the bank should fund the initiative and we all sat together and discussed how much would be the expense. We calculated the bus fare, price of food items etc. Bamboo Village is 13 KMs from Kalpetta, where our institute is located. We were 22 members and each member had to contribute RS 30/- including food. One of the senior students contributed money for rice and beaten rice. We bought dry fish from the market and pickle. One student brought coconut oil, others salt and coconut. 5 students brought mash. I volunteered to arrange cooking pots and plates from my house. I offered black coffee to all the members in my house.

Bamboo Nursery

On June 19th at 8.30 am the team started our outreach program. Our main aim was to get reconnected to nature, earth, rain, soil as well as craft skills and sustainable developmental activities based on bamboo. I with Peace Gong reporter Lakshmi waited for our friends at the bus stop. It was raining heavily and we expected an adventurous day. First we went to Bamboo nursery where more than 40 species of bamboos from many corners of the world including Japan, China, and Malaysia etc. are made ready for planting. Mr Baburaj, the President of Bamboo Village shared with us how bamboo saplings are prepared, and each one of us were gifted with a sapling to be planted in Bamboo Garden. Each student identified the scientific names of their bamboo.

Bamboo Craft Centre

We visited the Bamboo Craft centre which is on the way to Bamboo Village where production works as well as selling happen. We saw how bamboo was transformed to beautiful products like pens, masks, bangles, lamp shades, flutes, musical instruments and other handicraft works. We have also learned about bamboo weaving and other related activities.

Village Walk

We walked 1 KM through the village to reach Bamboo Garden. A walk through the village helped us to sense the pulse and palpitation of village life. The village walk helped us to understand the biodiversity and greenery of village. On the way we interacted with many villagers including ethnic people and rewarded with glimpses of their lives.

Training based on environment protection

On top of a tree hut we organized a life skills training and Mr Baburaj spent one hour with us sharing his life experiences as a person who invested his life to make bamboo a sustainable solution for rural development. He taught us about the green house effect and global warming. He asked even human beings with thick skin coat suffered from sun burn and harmful diseases due to global warming what about dragon flies, insects and butterflies. It was a shocking for all of us. He said that all these happened because of human beings and we felt shame and humiliation and pledged to do our role in changing this world. He concluded his speech by saying according to UN bamboo is called as the green gold. It is the tree for a future world.

Team Building

We decided that the food making should be part of life skills training and it is our team building activity. Even though we could easily cook the food in my home, we decided to do it as a team in Bamboo Garden which literally is a forest in 3 acres. We had to struggle a lot in the rain to get water from far away, make fire in the damp soil, and collect dry firewood and for all these activities including cooking different teams were divided to do it. We have cooked rice soup, the ethnic food of Kerala with traditional side dishes. The students realized the true value of our traditional food and many for the first time respected the value of it. We made spoons from jackfruit leaves.

Environmental protection

We identified our own favorite spots in the Garden and planted the saplings. We made decision to come back to the same spot at least once a month, monitor the growth of the bamboo and also plant more bamboos. At the same time, during each event more life skills development activates will be done. This gives us opportunities to look forward to reunite with our friends, that too for the benefit of Mother Nature.

Global interaction

We have already made arrangements with a resource person from Switzerland, Ms Corinne, an expert in sustainable management initiatives. We learned about waste management, educational system and the socio economic structure of Switzerland and European Union.

Outcome

The result was more than what we expected. The most important thing Is the program strengthened Shishu Panchayat-Peace gong movement in Wayanad as all the students became active partners, who assembled under one umbrella. We were successful in activities such as planning, budgeting, time management, volunteerism, team building, environmental awareness and protection, leadership and above all spreading messages of humanity, compassion and universal culture.

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