On this occasion of the World Environment Day, Merlin Group and it’s CSR arm – Merlin I’m Kolkata also announced its association with Terre des Hommes Suisse and DRCSC to support education for slum children residing in Ward no 57 & 58 in Kolkata located in the vicinity of Merlin X, a residential project of Merlin Group . Under this project, Merlin I’m Kolkata collaborated with Terre des Hommes Suisse, an international child rights organization to provide support to five support education centres run by the Kolkata based NGO DRCSC. Over 400 slum children will be benefited through five support education centres located across Dhapadipi, Bethbagan, Kulia Tangra, Tangra Camp and Rajarhat Notunpara under ward no 57 & 58 in Kolkata . The workshops on seed ball making, plantation and eco brick making are part of the project supported by Merlin I Am Kolkata.
In this formal occasion, Shri K Balamurugan IFS, Chief Environment Officer, Govt of West Bengal; Shri Soumitra Ray, Singer & Founder of Bangla band- Bhoomi and a member of West Bengal Child Protection Child Rights Commission; Dr. Sugata Hazra, Retired Professor and Head- School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, assembled to observe world environment day celebration along with Smt. Sarbani Bhattacharya, VP Corporate Communications & CSR, Merlin Group.
The eve of environment day celebration started with the workshop on seed ball making for children followed by plantation. Seed ball making and throwing is an ancient Japanese technique of natural farming . Seed balls, also known as earth balls, consist of mostly indigenous seeds layered with compost and rolled within a ball of soil/clay to assist germination. After the workshop, Mr. K Balamurugan, Prof. Sugata Hazra, singer Soumitra Ray , and all stakeholders from Merlin I Am Kolkata , Terre des Hommes Suisse and DRCSC engaged in planting trees and donated saplings to children at the center. Seed balls will be thrown later into vacant soil and over fences near the canal for germination and for enhancing green cover. 20 children have been trained today at this workshop. This followed another interesting workshop on making of eco bricks – An eco brick is a plastic bottle densely packed with used plastic to create reusable building blocks. Eco bricks can be used to develop various items such as garden walls, embankments, furniture and even Teaching Learning Materials etc. This is a form of managing consumed plastics by sequestering it and safely containing it. Eco Brick making is a recycling activity that reduces plastic waste by using it as a building material instead of sending it to landfills , thereby preventing further damage of the landfill. This also helps reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean and other natural environments which can be harmful to wildlife and ecosystems.15 children participated in ecobrick making.
The environment day celebration also will follow community actions (community clean ups, plantation, seedball throwing, community rallies, workshops with children to develop paper bags, appeal submission to local authorities, street theatre etc) over the week to celebrate the Global campaign on Education for Sustainable Development.
At the end, a street theatre with the theme of save trees, save earth was staged by the children at the center.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Saket Mohta, MD, Merlin Group commented , “ At Merlin Group , we always endeavor to add to green initiative to safeguard our mother earth. We have engaged in mangrove plantation in the sundarbans area and also contributed to plantation activity in and around Kolkata. We have also undertaken an integrated waste management project and supported green sports. However it is crucial to educate the children about the pressing issues of climate change. They are the future of our nation and they need to learn measures to add to the green movement. Together we can tackle the issues of global warming and plastic waste management. With this thought, we have supported the workshops on seed ball making and eco brick making. At Merlin we feel it is our duty to contribute to the holistic development of our nation and education is the stepping stone towards nation building, We hope our support to the five support education centres run by our DRCSC would motivate children to improve their learning. We thank Terre des Hommes Suisse for connecting us to this initiative. This is our first partnership, and we look forward to more years of engaging partnership to impact the communities thereof.’
Mr. Ashish Ghosh, Regional Coordinator-Asia, TdH Suisse, National Coordination Office- India mentioned -“This collaboration is an impactful demonstration of a corporate-NGO partnership, between Merlin Group, Terre des Hommes Suisse and DRCSC (our implementing partner) joining hands and allowing us to take a concrete step towards the achievement of education for sustainable development of the most marginalised children of urban slums in Kolkata.”
The project caters to the children belonging to families who are into daily wage works, rag picking, plastic and electronics waste collectors, rickshaw pullers and odd jobs, where family income ranges between INR 2000 to 5000. 70% of families have been staying here for the past 15 years with limited access to entitlements and services. A meagre 49.5% children who have been to school find it difficult to continue education as they are mostly first-generation learners and lack education support at home. Dropping out of the education system not only makes these children vulnerable but makes them fall prey to other forms of exploitation such as abuse, violence, trafficking etc.
The collaborative project partnered by Terre des Hommes Suisse, Merlin I’m Kolkata and DRCSC offers value-based education (that include curricular and child rights education) coupled with direct community actions to transform children and youth as Actors of Change. Our five(5) support education centers are equipped with trained educators who deploy contextualised learning and interactive pedagogy to deliver classes that not only reinforce better learning opportunities but also enable them to take actions, build advocacy with stakeholders and make their voices heard. The project will also strengthen 5 public schools (Bhoothnath Mahamaya Boys, Bhoothnath Mahamaya Girls, Janakalyan Sikshamandir, Shastriji Harijan Vidyamandir and Tarun Tirtha Prathamic Vidyalaya) through parent-teachers meeting, support to School Management Committees and child cabinets to function properly.The project ensures inclusive quality education for all with a focus on sustainable development.