06/19/2019, 18.52
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Assam: Caritas calls on parents to give their children plants, not smartphones

The FARM Northeast programme was implemented in 2016 in Gorajan, a village in Assam. Volunteers help parents teach their children to respect the environment. Mousumi, 11, takes care of her lychee plant and can’t wait to see it bear fruit.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Caritas India is proposing to parents to give their children seedlings and saplings to grow on their birthday instead of material things. This is part of the charity’s FARM Northeast programme in Assam, a predominantly rural state.

Established in 2016 on initiative of Prabal Sen, North-east State officer, the plan aims to regenerate the environment with the help of children, increasingly left on their own with smartphones, toys and expensive gifts.

"We want them to rediscover the contact with the earth, which is the basis of man’s nature," said Patrick Hansda, manager of public relations and communications at Caritas India, speaking to AsiaNews.

Children, even in the poorest parts of India, are especially targeted by advertising, which push people to buy consumer goods with attractive and joyful images.

Caritas is committed instead to developing the country's rural regions. For this it welcomed a suggestion from one of its local partners, the Seva Kendra Dibrugarh association, to make parents the engine of change. The plan has been implemented in Gorajan, a village in Jorhat district.

The project seeks to get parents to replace expensive birthday presents with seedlings and saplings, explained Vincent Xalxo, coordinator.

The idea came from FARM Northeast volunteers from their visits to villages, where they were often invited to birthday parties, weddings and other ceremonies.

The initiative was so successful in one village that last Mother's Day, 12 May, the children donated a plant to the parent. A chicken farm was also started.

"Among children, the sensation aroused by touching plants can strengthen and nurture the idea of ​​protecting the environment and reverse the effects of climate change," Hansda noted.

This is the case for Mousumi (pictured 2), who received a lychee plant as a gift for her 11th birthday. Relatives say that the child is so enthusiastic that "not only does she water the plant, but she won’t let others touch it. It has now become part of the family ".

"My plant is so pretty, it's my world,” the girl said. “I can't wait for the fruit to grow! I water it every day and I take care of it.”

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