Close to 100 excited children from 5 different schools in Gurgaon came to do tree plantation at Aravali Bio Diversity Park. These were Happy School, Manas, Nayi Disha, Saksham and Government School Suncity. The children were all ears when the volunteers from iamgurgaon explained how this is a forest and revived over the last few years with plant species native to the Aravali region. The children immediately connected to a forest being a place to help in reduction of pollution. They learnt that two shrubs Adusa and Barleria were going to be planted.
The young volunteers made their way with their teachers to the planting site. They first saw a demonstration on how to plant, and then in groups of three went about planting. “Barish ki tarah paani dena”, “mulching ke liye pathar”, “humne to 3 plant kiye” “hamara paudha mast ho gaya” was the chatter heard with each group vying with the other. The Happy School teachers mentioned that they have been coming here for many years and now see a marked growth in the green cover. They usually bring class 5 students, the senior most class in this school, and the children talk about the experience for months to come. Manas school was on its second visit, as was Saksham School, and did the planting in all seriousness. They reluctantly left the planting site as left to themselves they would have continued to be in the open.
Many children were curious to know about the wild life present, whether there was a sher or bagh or leopard. On snakes, there was a pause when they heard a yes. And then the conversation moved to snake bites where one girl observed that “humne to saanp ki jaati ko itna mar dala, shayad who hume isiliye katega” (We have killed so many species of snakes, maybe for that reason they will bite us). The theme continued as the kids were convinced a while later that they had seen a snake in the bushes on the way back from planting.
There were loud gasps when the children heard the number of Park’s bird species to be more than 150. Some of them saw a bird and were convinced it was “Pahadi Bater” which they had seen in their text book. (The real Pahadi Bater was last spotted in 1876!)
The entire experience was summed up well by a child “Jungle main ped lagane kaun jata hai, magar humne kiya” – Who goes to the jungle to plant trees, but we did it!
By Veena Padmanabhan who volunteered with planting and managing of student volunteers on August 9, 2016