A 2-year Campaign by Children Eliminates Addiction in their Village
Eliminating addictive habits is an arduous task. Children of one school in the Sangli district managed this in just 2 years.
The teacher says this is the effect of Mulyavardhan
Pandejhari is a small drought-hit village of Jat block, about 150 km away from the Sangli district in Maharashtra. Farmers here cultivate sorghum and millet and when water is available grapes. Shri Chandrakant Kamble is the Sarpanch (Village Head) of the village.
Kamble shared, “There was an incident one and a half years ago I had not even thought about. My son Arvind, who is a second standard student, told me that he would not eat meals. When I comforted him and asked the reason his obstinacy, he told me to stop my Gutkha addiction”.
Kamble was taken aback and decided to find out how Arvind got this thought. He visited Arvind’s Primary School in Babar which is located in the Pandejhari village and spoke to his teacher, DIlip Waghmare. Mulyavardhan is being implemented in this school since 2017.
“When I met Dilip Sir, I got to know about Mulyavardhan. The teacher told me that children speak about their good and bad habits in the Mulyavardhan classes.”
Dilip Waghmare shared: “Our children recognized the good and bad habits of people around them in this lesson. Students also discussed how alcohol and tobacco consumption is harmful to health. That is why Arvind asked you not consume these substances because he feels if you stopped your addiction, it would also help other people of the village to get rid of it‘’.
According to Dilip, Chandrakant Kamble became emotional after hearing this. As a Sarpanch, he resolved to launch a “De-Addiction Campaign” for the people of the village with children’s leadership.
Dilip Waghmare teaches about 48 students from the first standard to the fourth standard in the school where there are 26 boys and 22 girls. According to Dilip, there were a lot of obstacles in the de-addiction campaign. He said,
“There are not even 50 students in our school from the locality which has a population of 300 people. So the first question in front of us was – what do we do? “
Dilip said that he first organized some special sessions of Mulyavardhan for the students so they could discuss the consequences of addiction with each other. During these discussions students shared the side effects of addiction in their home, premises, neighbourhood and on the streets. They also prepared the necessary resources for the start of their campaign.
The campaign started with the students telling the village people how many people in the country and around the world have mouth cancer due to tobacco consumption and showed them pictures of mouth cancer.
Aarti Kaure, who studies in the third standard, says,
“When I asked my grandfather to leave Gutkha, he did not listen. Even after I told him again and again, then he would secretly chew gutkha. Once I saw him chewing gutkha and started crying. Then he had to say, do not cry, I will not chew from now!’’
Godappa Dhanshri says,
“My dad would give me money to bring gutkha for him. One day I said to him, if this (gutkha) is so good, then I will Chew it too! He said it is very bad. I said if that is so then you would also not have chewed it. That’s how I stopped him from chewing gutkha.”
Villager Godappa Kulade said it is not easy to get rid of an addiction but managed it because of our love for the kids. According to Godappa Kulade, there was a high percentage of gutkha chewing habit in the village two years ago. Today we see only one in fifty people chewing gutkha.
Dilip says that he organised a lot of cultural events at the school level on “Why is it necessary to give up an addiction?” Experts on addiction were invited to give the lectures and he also organised a “de-addiction” camp.
The villager Balaji Padalwar said,
“It is not that I was not aware of the ill effects of alcohol, but when the children and all the villagers started to prohibit drinking alcohol, then I thought why to drink alcohol and wrongly effect the environment of the village.”
A woman elder from the village, Kalpana Kaure said,
“It is our duty to nurture good habits in the children as an adult. But, when the children tell us what’s good and what’s bad, it feels bad in the beginning but it is good in the end.”