A faint smell of wet clay and cattle feed greets ones senses as they venture deeper into the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu. Shouldered by the Eastern Ghats and native forests,protected areas of the reserve host the Galidhimbam and Mavanattam hamlets – home to the ‘Irulas’.
We organized a two-day interactive programme in these hamlets as part of our 2016 summer camps. Our objective was simple: An attempt to discover a local individual’s environmental understanding.
Blank sheets and crayons and the school-going children were all we needed.
With a simple activity to illustrate their immediate environments – as they are today and will be two decades from now – the children were made to introspect.
At the end we asked them to explain their art to the other kids. These young minds were now thinking about the future of their neighboring landscapes and its effect on their society.
It was our priority to not influence the thinking of these children. What they created and the discussions that followed were a result of their own thinking.
And in return, they taught us their lifestyles and welcomed us like family.
Text credit: Anway Pramanik