At ECO (Earthcare Outreach Trust), we join children and adults in exploring limits of their creativity and imagination to create empowered communication around their lives by using visual media. Our special focus is in working with children in the area of environment communication.
ECO is a non-profit trust based in Delhi.
Children from Adharshila Learning Center in the heart of tribal south Madhya Pradesh make a short video about 'why shouldn't education be fun and interesting?' To push boundaries in true ECO style, they step outside the world of their own school and comfort zone to dialogue with children from mainstream public schools in a small city a stone's throw away from their school.
This film narrates the journey of these children and captures what happens when these two worlds collide...
Adharshila, a namethat would come up every now and then
in the Earthcare office. And for the last few years I had been wanting to go
there out of curiosity, to find outwhat was so unusual
about this Adivasi school. I have worked with Adivasi children many times
before but I was told that Adharshila is different.
Opportunity came when Kavita designed a participatory
video project for Adahrshila kids. I was excited to take on this one.
Kavita had told me that the school was on a small hill
surrounded by villages. Throughout the 15-hour journey, I kept imagining and
picturing the school. Most of my previous work with Adivasis was more or less
inside the forest or around it. So I was visualizing a school among tall dense
trees, birds chirping...…. a typical forest scenario.
Kamal had come to the station at Indore to receive me,
and no time was lost between us to break the ice. I
was joining the workshop in the second phase. AfterI
reached Adharshila, within no time I was sharing a good rapport with the kids.
Thanks to Kavita, they already knew me.
As I walked into the campus, I saw small groups of
children scattered around. However, I could not make out what they were doing
and before I could explore, Kavita took me to meet Amit bhai and Jaya, the
brains behind the school. I admire them for the
choice and sacrifice they have made in their lives. It is not every day that
you find people like them. We had a brief chat about the school and how it was
ThereafterI thought of getting
myself acclimatized to the surroundings and took a walk through the campus. I
came across a group of children with glucose bottles and drips, something I had
only seen inhospitals and wondered what the kids do with
these. Upon asking, a boy promptly explained to me that these are used for drip
farming and he practically showed me how it is done. I don't think any text
book would have explained drip farming better than my new little friends.
As I continued, I saw children doing so many things
practically, which are connected to their course books and otherwise, as if to
see if the theory actually works in real life. I
was amazed to find the connections each child had made with life, how they
wanted to find a solution to everything, even if they didnt find one, their
At the chicken pen I saw a boy sitting and observing
chicks. I asked him what he was doing. He said that some chicks are dying and
that he was trying to figure out, why . This was Tota Ram, he became my
favorite at Adharshila. He is fond of birds and
has recorded over 70 birds in and around Adharshila.
He borrowed my bird guide book, and for the next few days I saw him wandering
with the guide. On the last day, he returned my bird guide with all the birds
he had seen book marked in it.
Each day I was surprised
little innovations these kids made, be it finding a solution to make a shower
for me out of broken material or providing a makeshift screen for viewing
films. There is all round talent in Adharshila and a never dying curiosity to
explore and learn.
The uniqueness of these Adahrshila kids, which
distinguishes them from most of the children I have met earlier, was such that
it never brought my attention towards the barren landscape.
The blanket of stars, driving
Sureshji’s three wheeler, sugarcane juice after each screening, cooking in Amit
bhai’s house, swim in the dam and so many other things will stay with me for
years to come…
And yes, Tota Ram did manage to save the chicks, he found
out the reason but that’s another episode...
Dharma Singh did the camera and was part of a crew, which worked with 10 children from Adharshila to make a film called 'Trikon Khirkee Wala School'. You can watch the film, get a closer look at Adharshila Learning Center and embark on a journey with the children by clicking here.