A Generation Leading a Green Revolution
At the doorstep of her home’s veranda, there is a gust of cool air blowing through the harsh and hot sun. Living in a village which is a scorched and unquenched land, Radha’s home stands out looking almost like a sanctuary. A massive fruit and vegetable garden adorns the front-yard and an Indian lilac tree extending its branches for refreshing shade. These are a testament to the relentless pursuit of the 18-year old and her brother, Ram, to grow greens.
From lady’s finger, eggplant, guava, mango to banana and more, their garden is a bustling haven with a wide range of fruits and vegetables.
It all began three years ago when Radha and her brother were given saplings to grow and nurture at their home through the plantation sensitisation programme conducted by World Vision among children from their community.
“When we learnt about the importance and benefits of trees, we decided to grow plants and trees that bear fruits and vegetables so that we can help our parents, who are farmers. Over the past few years, there was hardly any water for them to grow and harvest crops. They were struggling to earn money”, says Radha.
“At that time, there wasn’t a single plant here on our front yard. This entire garden has come up over these past three years. Now, we hardly buy fruits or vegetables from the market”, adds Ram.
Children’s clubs and sensitization programmes on environment are initiated with the intention that children will realise the importance of protecting and conserving the environment. Becoming agents of change in their respective communities, children are empowered to facilitate a community-led natural environmental regeneration.
“We didn’t know our ancestors had such rich heritage of indigenous plants and trees here. We want to bring that back to our village”, says Radha and Ram.
Despite the deficit in rainfall for over three years, children in Radha’s community are planting seeds of hope. In a survey conducted in four of fifteen villages where World Vision ran the plantation sensitisation programme, 81.51% of saplings given to these children are alive and thriving. 63.78 % of them are already bearing fruits and an average of 23 kilograms of fruit is being procured by each family.
By engaging and empowering children, World Vision is able to shift perceptions within communities to nurture their environment despite climate change—helping them to thrive and eventually beat poverty.
“We call ourselves the ‘Superhero children’ because we want to be examples in our community”,
says 11-year-old Min Khant.
Together with some children in his community, Min created a Children’s Club to protect the environment and to do their part in keeping climate-related disasters at bay.
His community is frequently faced with severe heat waves, hail, heavy rains and tropical storms throughout the year. During heavy rains, they are prone to flooding. “We have to use boats to go to school”, shares Min. These boats are often the only mode of transportation the children are left with during a disaster, posing significant threat to their lives. Moreover, the floods also scatter garbage and bring along water-borne diseases that plagues his people.
Through the Children’s Club that Min started, children are engaged in multiple environmental protection activities. They volunteer to pick up trash along the streets that are thoughtlessly thrown by people—the improper waste disposal degrades the quality of the soil making it unsuitable for farming and agriculture in the long run. The piling of wastage also leads to the clogging of water flow in the drainages which are dangerous in times of flooding.
From planting trees to nurturing them regularly, Min also advocates the need for trees in his community.
“A grown tree can produce oxygen sufficient for four people for a day. So, if we must cut down a tree, I suggest to re-plant three more to make-up for the loss. I would like to let people know that trees are essential to us and we need to grow more,” says Min.
For Min, his zest to make a difference in his community began when he attended World Vision’s consultation workshop. During this workshop, children and youths are given the opportunity to discuss their views and experiences on disaster risk, climate change and their hopes for the future. Awareness is also raised on the importance of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Crisis among the children and youth. Such workshops serve to build the capacity of children and empower them to know how much they can contribute.
Eventually, these children become the agents of change in their community as they impart their knowledge to their peer groups, families and community.
Together with Radha and Min, there are many children who are hidden heroes in their community who courageously pursue their dreams. They continue to pave the path to build a world where we do not have to fear nature and nature does not fear us. From overcoming their circumstances and leading a change, we have a promising generation rising up to lead a green revolution.