Schools are doing their bit to create awareness on rainwater harvesting.
Rainwater harvesting is the newest buzzword. Newspapers are splashing the last dates for installing the system at home, the gates of a few high-rises in the city bear a grungy board that proudly declares `This is a rain water harvesting building', ministers are on TV every evening exhorting people to harvest their rainwater and government officials are visiting homes and issuing dire warnings to those who have not yet complied.
Even schools are doing their bit to create awareness, although instructed to do so by a government order. Over the past few weeks, students have been marching along roads waving placards and chanting slogans. "The present generation is really not aware of non-conventional sources of energy," says Ajeeth Prasath Jain, Principal of Rajaji Vidyashram, Chennai. "This is the right time to start campaigns for rain water harvesting and nature conservation to create awareness among students." His school will be taking out a two km-long rally next week alongwith Sindhi Model School and Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Chennai.
Though they've participated in the rallies cheerfully, screaming their lungs out and braving heat and thirst for the cause of water, not all the children are aware of the cause they are campaigning for. "We went on a rally but we hadn't been told what RWH really is. Most of my friends had no clue what we were rallying for," says 11-year-old Divya. She's read the pamphlets and material that the local Exnora, Chennai distributed in her area and figured out what the fuss was all about. "But I found the rally embarrassing. We were standing on the road and all the people were staring at us. We had to stand in the sun for a few hours and I fell sick the next day." Twelve-year-old Prakash knows that rain water harvesting is "something about saving rainwater". He says he was thrilled when his class was asked to go on a rally as it meant missing a boring class. "But if they really want us to make a difference, we should have been better informed."
"We explained the concept to the students. How much they understand is not important, they just need to be aware of it. Even if the kids don't understand our explanation, they will ask their parents about it. When the rains start, we'll take them to the percolation points to explain it practically," says Jain.
"We walked for rain water harvesting but until it was done in my house, I didn't really understand what it was. Now I'm curious to see how it works," says 11- year-old Vinod.
A 13-year-old student wonders how they will spread awareness without understanding the concept entirely. "The success of the rally also depends on the kind of people we address. They have to be able to understand what we are talking about," she says. But, the principal of DAV Girls Senior Secondary School, Chennai, M.P. Geetha, says that rallies for rainwater harvesting make sense because it is a topic anyone can identify with. "From childhood we are told not to waste water. Water is something everyone needs and rainwater harvesting is easy enough for everyone to understand." Though the school did not take part in the rally because of examinations, they have held elocution competitions, talent shows and story-telling sessions with RWH as the theme. "These are simple methods that will help children understand the concept." DAV Girls School went the RWH way a year ago. "Water harvesting is not a new concept. The Pallava and Chola kings built temples with huge tanks, which are a form of RWH. We have lost some of these old methods to modernisation."
Mr. Jain from Rajaji Vidyashram, Chennai says that history and geography teachers are explaining the concept in every class.
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