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Green Leader’s Journey to Kids Education Revolution National Summit

Abdullah Khan Pathan, Republic Primary School, Ahmedabad

Abdullah exploded out in joy after his selection to the National KER Summit, a platform to listen and learn from children about Excellent Education. Eyes got wet and he hugged his ‘Bhaiya’. A 7th grader chubbly boy Abdullah lives in a chawl near the heart of the old city in Ahmedabad. When I joined my fellowship and reported to the school, It had few large trees comprising Peepal, Neem, Copper pod, etc. but not a concentrated garden for kids to learn and engage with the biodiversity and nature. Even the area around the school doesn’t have enough green space and is covered with concrete buildings with few heritage monuments scattered here and there in the city. We started a learning circle with the students and we used to discuss our school and community issues. During one of these circles, Abdullah shared an idea to start a school garden and use it to conduct activities. Most students liked the idea and started brainstorming to find a suitable space in the already congested school building situated in the heart of the city.

The next day Abdullah and other students came to me, with a spark in their eyes and eager to share. They already planned to start a garden on the rooftop and when I asked from where did they get the idea, then Arhan added: “Bhaiya, my mother have been using old container and pots to run a small garden in one corner, why can’t we do the same and use it for activities?” Overwhelmed with their response and ownership, team ‘ElemenTree’ started collecting pots, containers and planned to fetch saplings from a forest nursery in Gandhinagar. Since we were low on financial resources, one puzzle after the other fit in with solutions from the students. Hasnen mentioned with such innocence that his father has a ‘Chota Hathi’ (Baby Elephant) and we all laughed. He further clarified that it’s a small tempo usually called ‘Chota Hathi’ and he usually stays free on Sundays. On the coming Sunday, our team fetched saplings and seed for the garden.

Everyone was so excited and we started mixing soil which students fetched from the riverside with the manure we bought from the market. Playing with soil is fun for kids and they loved kneading soil with manure, water, and dry leaves. It was a hands-on activity for students to plant saplings and learn. Abdullah learned a lot of things and he took the project further to take care of the garden. He mostly spends time reading books around nature and how he could use these small kitchen gardens to tackle the problem. In the second year, with our team, we developed the burning corner in the school into a garden too. Our school staff supported us for the initiative and with funds from Principal we got Earthen Pots later. We even applied for Abdullah’s story to reach to other students across the country to address the climate change issue in their communities. Finally, Abdullah got his dream true and he was so elated to receive the invitation for the National Summit. His family was overjoyed since he would be taking a flight and he will be out on his own at such a tender age. We strongly believe that our Green Leaders will bring the wave of change in their communities and for their people. Climate Change is very contextual for communities and each community needs its tailor-made solutions.

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