In the months of September and October, children and volunteers of Make A Difference, across India, participated in the global phenomenon that is Design For Change. DFC is a platform which encourages children to identify, find solutions and implement solutions to fix their own environments, thereby changing their own worlds.
Ever thought that a child cannot do something this momentous? Well, then you’re about to be proved wrong! Thousands upon thousands of children across the world (33 countries, this year) have participated in Design for Change, and by being the extraordinary talents they are, they’ve changed the world we live in, some way or the other!
At MAD, we were excited by the possibilities. So were our volunteers, and so were our children. A bevy of projects were implemented up and down the country. We were awed, inspired, shocked at times by how aware our kids were about the issues surrounding them!
The children took to it so fast that some of us had trouble keeping up. (One particular group came up with 80 ideas for DFC!) In fact, there were so many that we decided to organise a small internal competition to celebrate the best of the best of the best!
Over the course of this week and the next, we’ll be bringing to you the stories of those who stood out from amongst the rest. These are MAD’s superheroes. The volunteers and chidren who inspire us day in, day out!
Presenting, the project that swooped the grand prize, the National MAD did DFC winner: The volunteers and children of CARDTS, Mangalore!
By Vadanya Shrivastava about her, Prithvishree Ravindra and Ashima Mutneja’s Design For Change project from Ideation to Implementation.
One fine Sunday morning , a group of 8 very excited children- Manjunath, Pavan, Sanjay , Chidanandha, Madhusudan , Sai Prakash, Divith and Manoj, and their MAD teachers , sat down in the hall of the CARDTS centre, in Nantur Mangalore to discuss a new activity that they had to do that month.
As Prithvishree explained to the children the idea of DFC, where they could solve their own immediate problems themselves , they became all aglow with excitement and soon the ideas started bursting forth.
Some wanted to ensure safe disposal of garbage, someone else wanted to help the poor and aged. One said they should do something about the broken gate and the stony driveway, while another wanted schoolbooks to be made available to children who didn’t have them . But the idea that really stuck was given by Sanjay and Manjunath as they described the problem of mosquitoes and malaria.
It came to light that in the last 4 months, 7 of the kids in the centre had suffered from malaria. There were a lot of mosquitoes in the neighbourhood , which made their way into the children’s playing room during the evening. There were several puddles filled with stagnant water, which served as a breeding ground for the insects. This problem got the nods of approval from the children, and we were to discuss the solutions the next week.
The next Sunday, we sat down to discuss the solutions to the problem that we faced. This time again, the kids’ fertile minds had produced a lot of suggestions. It included educating people about ways to combat malaria and keep the neighbourhood free from such stagnant water sources, buying bednets and window nets, filling up puddles, buying mosquito repellent products, etc.
Slowly a plan of action emerged. It was decided that three things will be done to effectively fight the mosquito menace.
First, the community would be made aware of the problem and its management. Second, the puddles in the neighbourhood were to be filled up. And third, window nets will be installed in the girls’ and well as guys’ home to keep out the insects.
But the question that now arose was how would the money for the nets be raised. It was then suggested that the kids will make greeting cards for Diwali, the sale of which would raise the money we needed. This idea was enthusiastically agreed upon.
The next week we started the implementation. The kids first approached a social health worker and asked her to hold a small seminar about malaria and the ways to prevent it, in the Centre itself, for the benefit of their friends. She very graciously agreed to do so, and the kids in the centre spent the first hour of that day listening and interacting with her and knowing more about the topic.
After that, we started with the Greeting Cards. The kids now poured out their imagination and creativity into the cards , had a lot of fun with the art-and-craft and in two days, had completed 200 really beautiful Diwali Greetings . The next day, we sold the greetings at colleges and offices and successfully raised the money we required for the nets.
The same day, in the evening , the children set out to spread awareness about the malaria problem in their neighbourhood. They went door-to-door, spoke to the residents , distributed pamphlets and informed the community about the disease, its causes, and prevention. The people in the houses were very interested and supportive of the cause.
After this, it was time to fill up the puddles in the neighbourhood. The kids had fun covering the puddles with pebbles , to prevent water from collecting in them . Most of the puddles around the centre were dealt with, and the children were very satisfied with their work .
The only thing remaining , was to purchase the window nets. The kids went to the shop selling the nets and placed an order for window nets to be installed in the girls and guys’ homes, using the money they had raised from the cards. The window nets were duly installed within the next few days.
Now, the kids live in a better protected environment, a cleaner and healthier neighbourhood and are themselves better equipped to battle malaria. And of course, the mosquito nets are always there to remind them , that they can make a difference and be the change they want in their lives.