By Vedant Goel:
I come from the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, which is prone to regular droughts. Though I am now living in Pune, my parents still stay in Vidarbha, where we get water for only two hours in the morning. In fact, in most cities of Maharashtra, we have a water shortage. I have seen in the news that farmers are committing suicide and I am saddened when I hear it.
Water is one of the most essential necessities of life and yet, it is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, one that needs careful planning and management. We must learn to value every drop even if we are not directly affected by water shortage. The state of things inspired my friend Yusuf Soni and I to do something about it, and who better to start with than school children? After all, they are the future keepers of our natural resources.
Yusuf and I are college friends. We attended Sir Parshurambhau College in Pune and even while we were in college we loved to help people and work for society. Together, we organised many events on traffic awareness and the importance of education, as well as blood donation camps and more. In 2015, we organised an event to provide dental hygiene education to over 1011 kids from Dr. Dada Gujar School, Pune, where we got all the students to brush their teeth together for two minutes!
Now, it is time to address the issue of water. In Pune, there are many areas where water is not available. So, we decided to visit schools and gift a small drum where students can pour the remaining water from their bottles. This water can then be used to water plants and clean the schools’ washrooms.
When we organise an event in a school, we tell interesting stories – like what would happen if they don’t have water at their home or school. We make them imagine a life without water. Also, ways in which water can be conserved. Simple things like the importance of closing taps after use, and about using mugs when brushing your teeth and not letting water flow.
Children are very innocent and sincere. The feedback which we have got from kids is amazing. They are not only conserving water but also educating others. I appreciate the teachers, too, because they have been very supportive of our cause. They are leading from the front and setting the right example for their students. We are happy to share the fact that school administrations have been very supportive towards our initiative.
We aimed to educate 10,000 students and already exceeded this target by conducting sessions for over 10,200 children! Now, since schools are closed, we are targeting summer camps. We are also in talks with the Pune Municipal Corporation, to install drums in multiple areas, so this water can be recycled for plantations, instead of using fresh water.
After an event at a school, when I went back to meet the principal, many kids referred to me as ‘water dada’. Not only did I feel proud but I am also glad that kids remember water conservation. We have even received phone calls from parents who were curious to know about our initiative because their kids were really excited to save water. Some parents also told us that their kids had stopped using the shower when having a bath; they insist on using buckets!
This has made me realise that our work is changing mindsets, and this has inspired Yusuf and me. What we are doing today will have an effect in the long run because every drop saved, is crucial for our future generations.