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.
Saturday, 22 December 2012
Story of a little village road...
... the ever energetic Suchismita
Suchismita was the highly energized one. So high voltage,
that we had to find new ways to keep her focused and channelize her energies.
Though she was also the one coming back with new ideas and arguments, which
took the class forward.
Suchismita had an older brother and no father. He committed
suicide, a few years ago trying to repay a loan he had taken to start a new
business. Suchi, 13, wasn’t aware of the reason. I was told by the cycle van
driver who took us to her house.
Suchi and 9 of her friends from class 9 of Dhablat Lakhsman
Paribesh School were in an 8-day workshop making a film on sustainability.
Their vision of sustainability, from their lived experience. I was the trainer
who was a teacher and a co-learner at the same time. We were in the biggest
island in the Sunderbans delta. All of 300 sq Kms. called Sagar.
Each child made an interesting journey to school. We thought
we should explore Suchi’s. Just to know our filmmakers better. Suchi’s grouse
was that on exam days she would be very anxious waiting for the boatman to
finish his lunch and take her across the river. This excited me and Dharma, my
co trainer, to do this journey with Suchi, one day after the workshop was done.
Suchi was thrilled. Her Sir had decided to visit her home.
Evening was closing in. A small rivulet was to be crossed first. We waited for
the only ferry boat in service and then waited for it to be full up before we
could cross. A daily passenger Suchi, was today in the limelight. Everyone was
asking- who we were? She proudly announced that she was making a film and these
were her filmmaking Sirs.
The boat ride was short. Then the cycle van. A flat bed made
of wooden splats on two wheels drawn by a cycle. You sit on the wooden splat
bed, careful not to get your legs entangled in the wheels. The ride took us
about 30 minutes. We had to take a longer route today because the shorter one
was being flood repaired. Bobbing up and
down on the village mud roads, we came upon a scene and there was commotion.
Members of a family including women and children were sitting out on the road.
On inquiring, we learnt that there had been a theft in their house.
The light was fading fast by the time we reached Suchi’s straw,
mud and roof tiled house. Powered by their own solar ‘plate’ on their tiled
roof. Her mother promptly produced tea for all of us and we had a few laughs
over Suchi’s overflowing energy levels. Her house was next to a small patch of
forest, which gave them fuel wood. No famed Sunderbans tigers on this island.
By the time we were out of her house it was pitch dark.
There were no streetlights as is common in rural areas. Our cycle van driver
produced a contraption which was a torch slung by a string over the cycle handle,
pointing towards the road, throwing a small pool of weak yellow light. Visibility
wasn’t more than a few meters. The road was a raised strip and the sides ended
up in a ditch before the rice fields began. Once one of the back wheels was
found precariously fighting a complete dislodge into the ditch. Thankfully it
won that round and we all were still safe. We crossed the family out on the
road. The cops were awaited still. One oil lantern had been added to the crowd.
Amidst the cacophony of cricket, the village
was lit by tons of flickering oil lamps though a few low voltage CFL bulbs were
also on display powered by solar plates. What I dreamt that night was, what if
our cycle van had lost the battle and we overturned into the ditch?!
The children were making a film on the proposed development
of the island. A port, a bridge joining mainland Kolkata to their island and
power stations were proposed. Tourism and infrastructure development were next.
The children were apprehensive of the new proposals of the adults.They were ready to take an extreme ‘all
development is bad’ tenor in their film, had it not been for my trip to
Suchismita’s house that evening. Is, having streetlights in their village a bad
idea?Roads, which don’t flood every
monsoon? A small bridge across the river, which may help Suchi bring her cycle
across and not wait for the boatman to finish his lunch on exam days?
Controlled and an inclusive development is good. But a runaway
development especially for an island ecosystem, could spell doom is what their
Ajaner Deeper Golpo-
A story of an Unknown Island.
Perched on the edge.... on the way to Suchi's village