My message to the world is for everyone to just take a step back and really look at our planet and the situation that we’re in: how beautiful our world is, and the future that we could have and think about how we could get there because it’s something precious that we don’t want to lose.Dominique Palmer, English climate activist
If the cooperation of all generations is essential for the preservation of the environment and the construction of more equitable and eco-responsible societies, Karuna-Shechen attaches particular importance to raising the awareness of future generations.
This is why part of our awareness programs focuses on children and young adults. In line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), they aim to educate them on climate and environmental issues and on nature preservation actions. In the same way, they try to instill in them the desire to marvel, to continue to take care of living things, and to raise awareness in their surroundings. These programs combine awareness of the importance of preserving the environment on the one hand, with concrete actions aimed at adopting more eco-responsible habits on the other.
India: creating new habits to fight against plastic
Every year, India produces nearly four million tons of plastic and uses four times more. This consumption has disastrous effects on the environment and animals since half of the plastic products are for single-use and are not recycled. Nevertheless, the situation is progressing little by little. The Indian government has banned the production, storage, distribution, and import of several single-use plastic items, such as tableware, cigarette packs, and plastic packaging, as of July 2022.
Jute bags: offering alternatives, training ambassadors
In order to offer accessible, sustainable, and economical alternatives to plastic, Karuna-Shechen distributes jute bags to all the beneficiaries of its programs. Since 2013, nearly 91,027 bags have been distributed to villagers. This solution helps spread the message by making each user an ambassador for more sustainable practices.
At the same time, Karuna organizes workshops on recycling, the deplorable consequences of plastic use, and existing ecological alternatives for the population. These campaigns are a means of spreading a benevolent view of the living world and training communities in responsible habits.
Testimony of Ranita Sahu, Grade 9 student at Vidya Bharti English School, Jharkhand, India
“My name is Ranita Sahu and I am in grade 9. I am a student at Vidya Bharti English School and I am from Chotta Sijula, Jharkhand. I expressed my feelings through this drawing.
Here, I have drawn that plastics are very damaging to our life. You can see that animals are eating plastics which is very harmful to the animals and for us as it may cause cancer, asthma, and many other diseases. Hence, we should avoid using it.
Furthermore, some members from Karuna Shechen came to our school for the awareness program and provided us with jute bags. We should use them and try our best to avoid plastics to enhance our quality of life.”
Go Green: encouraging expression, preparing for change
The “Go Green” Program for schools helps young people make the transition to environmentally responsible habits. Since its inception, more than 4,050 students have participated in the program in 56 schools in Bihar and Jharkhand. Activities include writing, speaking, and drawing competitions. These varied forms of expression allow everyone to share their understanding and feelings about the environmental situation and the ways in which they can act. It can also be an opportunity for children and teenagers to convey a message that is important to them.
For me, wonderment is something that intrigues and fascinates me again and again in many new ways. The commitment that I have made for the environment is to use very limited plastics, not waste water, use more public transportation, and live an organic lifestyleNamrata Singh, Karuna Shechen’s Education Program Manager in India
Nepal: involving the whole community and thinking about a responsible future
Karuna-Shechen’s awareness-raising programs in Nepal combine academic learning with regular practice. In regions where the population is not necessarily aware of the interdependence between global warming and environmental degradation, Karuna-Shechen is committed to informing and involving all generations and all audiences. By multiplying contacts with nature and informing the inhabitants about the repercussions of its degradation, Karuna intends to cultivate wonder and mobilize the population for the protection of the environment.
Finding inspiration in the environment, improving daily
In the villages, Karuna-Shechen proposes immersions in the middle of nature called “eco-camps” during which participants hike while collecting waste on the side of the road.
These camps are an opportunity to identify sources of waste, discuss methods of waste sorting and disposal, and reflect on aspects of environmental protection that can be easily and effectively implemented at the local level.
Finally, Karuna organizes “zero waste” camps in the villages to initiate waste-free consumption. Also, in 2021, 35 inhabitants have followed a program to become trainers and in turn will be able to transmit what they have learned to their communities.
This is my first time participating in the Zero Waste Management Workshop. Personally, I liked the program very much and the way it was managed. Everything we learned in the workshop was important for me. I learned how to manage waste at home. I also learnt how we can manage decomposable and non-compostable garbage around our surroundings. I will implement everything I learnt here to my community after I return home. I think we should definitely implement what we have learned and teach it to the community.Yog Raj Rai, a participant to an eco-walk in Thulung Dudhkoshi
Développer sa créativité, s’engager pour la planète
In schools, teenagers are made aware of environmental protection, particularly through recycling and waste sorting. In March 2021, an eco-art competition was organized. This was an opportunity for students to send a message for the protection of the planet and living beings and to express their creativity. This year, the two themes proposed to pupils in the Ruby Valley schools were: the impact of climate change on the environment and thinking environmental protection.
These competitions are both a way to reflect on the sources of wonder that populate students’ daily lives and the production of works worthy of wonder. With the help of the artist Ranjendra Rana and Karuna Shechen’s team, participants noticed how art can bring a new perspective to the question of climate action. They also learned to use colors and textures and to integrate nature and waste into their artistic productions.
I am glad that I participated in this program. I had never participated in such aprogram before. I learned a lot about environmental conservation, for instance how we could collect waste materials and recycle them into different arts. I am very happy that I won and became one of the top five winners of “The eco-art Competition.Pushpanjali Rai, winner of the 2021 eco-art competition, Shree Deusa Secondary School, Nepal
Arts made by the students of Chamra Devi Secondary School during the eco-art competition, September 2022.
Three Clubs for the Environment have been created as a result of the interventions in schools. They will organize awareness campaigns by themselves as well as clean walks and ecological art competitions
Som Bahadur Tamang, a teacher from Dongden Devi Secondary School in Ruby Valley in Nepal shared his experience regarding the formation of a child/environment club in his school. “These child clubs should conduct many awareness-related campaigns in near future i.e. tree plantation, environment clean-up, art competition & counseling to local grocery shops. I am quite optimistic to make my community clean via the clean-up campaign by mobilizing the adolescents in my community thanks to environment/child clubs.”
You are never too young or too small to make an impact in the world. Remember that everything you do, however small, counts. It is best to start now because we don’t have much time.Lesei Mutunkei, Kenyan climate activist
The awareness campaigns in India and Nepal allow the population to assimilate the climatic stakes and to identify the means of action available to them. Indeed, the proposed workshops create a new opportunity to discuss the role of each person within the community. Moreover, the activities destined to children and teenagers are a great opportunity to express how they feel about environmental degradation, pass on their messages, share what they want to put in place, and ensure that the right reflexes are transmitted to future generations.