Sometimes, all we need is a little inspiration to give us the thrust in the direction of action. With simply the intention of inspiring on the third anniversary of the E-Base, we had a small celebration to mark three years of educating and motivating to lead change.
This anniversary the students got an opportunity to interact with very dynamic guests- Bhajju Shyam, Vikram Sridhar and the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) of the Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra.
The immensely talented and renowned Gond artist Bhajju Shyam wowed the students with the story of his life. Coming from the Pradhan tribe, a sister tribe of the Gond, Bhajju Shyam has seen it all and done it all. From working as a security guard in Bhopal to giving talks in Paris and London; Bhajju ji’s life took a complete 360 degrees turn.
He was at the E-Base to share just this amazing journey; from a daily wage worker to an apprentice of his artist uncle to finally becoming the renowned Gond artist he is now.
He is proof for the students that anything is possible if one puts their mind to it and being a tribal is no disadvantage by any means. Through his witty humour and humbling anecdotes, this very message was so effectively communicated to the students.
The seven young girls of the 28 member (an all girls team) STPF showed the students just how much work goes into protecting the wildlife of Pench, and that today’s girls can do just as much as boys!
Through discussions with the girls, the students got the most detailed accounts of the girls’ lives, their jobs, their struggles, their successes and their goals and aspirations. The students were also taken through a physical training session by the girls to show them just how tough they have to be. The cherry on top was the karate lesson by the STPF girls.
An honest statement- we had at least four to five girls come up to us to ask us how to enroll in the forest department! All in all, we say this is inspiration at its best.
Vikram Sridhar, a performance artist and story teller with a focus on conservation, wove the message of conservation in his performance of the book ‘Jaadui Macchi’, a Gondi folktale.
The message of environmental conservation is so often riddled with pessimism and fear. Vikram’s message through ‘Jaadui Macchi’ is one of hope and inspiration.
Moreover, the students of Pench belong to the Gondi tribe, but are unfortunately disconnected from their roots. It is wonderful interactions like the one with Vikram that help take a step towards exploring their own culture and the richness of it.
To be in the company of such extraordinary but humble personalities was perhaps the best third anniversary gift we could give our students. We witnessed curiousity and inspiration through the questions our students put up to our guests. We are certain that this interaction has left a mark on the students and perhaps in the years to come we may find our own girls and boys following the lead of these inspirational individuals.
To end, we would like to thank Navreet Kaur, who joined us as a spectator of the E-Base workshops but became a team member, helping with coordination, photography, arts and crafts, ideation and all that goes into a successful workshop!
Looking forward to seeing all this inspiration translate into action in the Pench Tiger Reserve!