Mumbai School Project in Action: In Partnership With Swiss Staff Foundation for Children In Need

The Sustainable School Project supported by Swiss Staff Foundation for Children in Need is a sustainable model of social change which is bringing a lot of positive changes in the locality.

This is a project which encourages more than a thousand children to realise they have a bright future. 

This project is helping create a sustainable school with Eco-brick Garden, a composting unit built itself by school children, benches available for all, clean drinking water facilities and a  solar power operated school.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the schools are closed and the training at school wasn’t possible. Therefore, the Earth5R team took over the locality and is conducting training for children in the slum area of Sangharsh Nagar, Mumbai. 

This particular locality is infamous for littering and throwing off the garbage on the streets. This situation arose due to a lack of a formal waste management system, leading the entire area to look like a massive landfill with roads passing through.

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Every year an estimated 12.6 million people die globally as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment.

In order to improve the situation, the Earth5R team is visiting the localities to reach out to all the children to spread awareness amongst them.

The people of such localities do not have access to online platforms or technology, hence we made sure to conduct in-person training to better the situation as soon as possible.

The team is following the norms of social distancing by gathering the children in an open space to prevent any kind of transmission amongst each other. 

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PURPOSE OF THE ACTIVITY

The entire exercise of circular economy and waste management starts with teaching the children about segregation.

It’s only when the waste is segregated and recycled, the area gets clean. That’s why the Earth5R volunteers and team members talk to the local residents and encourage them to participate in this program.

If sustainable development is to be successful, the attitudes of individuals concerning the current lifestyle will have to change and this activity is helping them take small steps to create an impact in their own lives.

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UNIQUE WAY TO ENGROSS CHILDREN IN THE TRAINING

The training would have been effective only if the children actually took part in the training and found it interesting. So, in order to engage the children, the Earth5R team came up with an interactive activity such as sports.

The idea is to play sports with the kids and train them about waste segregation and recycling during the breaks in between.

During the break, the children experience an insightful training on waste segregation, the method, the techniques and the instructions on how to make their home zero waste. Furthermore, the Earth5R team teaches them about the types of wastes like dry waste, wet waste, hazardous waste, bio-medical waste, and electronic waste through pictorial representations.

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Imagine 3 million trucks piled high with garbage. That’s how much untreated garbage urban India generates every day. If these 3 million trucks are laid end to end, they would cover half the distance between the earth and the moon. That’s also the distance you would cover if you made 15 trips between Mumbai and Los Angeles.

The team teaches them the importance of waste segregation and have given them one month’s exercise where the kids will segregate the waste daily, teach their family members about it, and will keep a check on their family members to ensure that no waste is thrown out of the windows and on the streets. 

Containers for waste collection have been placed in the building premises so that proper collection of waste can be done. Once a week, children will bring the plastic waste and dispose it in the container.

The collected plastic will be downcycled into products like school bags and benches for these children.

This activity creates a sense of responsibility in every child and encourages them to see themselves as a leader.

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BUILDING FUTURE ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS

The project is receiving overwhelming participation from the children. The kids are excited to learn about recycling and to know that they themselves are becoming environmental leaders by doing just a simple activity of segregating waste at home.

They are thrilled that the Earth5R team will provide them with school bags and benches making their schooling experience a better one.

The children of the locality are filled with enthusiasm as this project is opening a new aspect of knowledge and creating leadership values amongst them.  They call themselves the Friends of the Earth and see their future as bright as the sun.

Reported by Namrata Garg, Edited by Riya Dani

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