The Archdiocese Office for Environment (AOE) in collaboration with Muktisagar Prabodhan Kendra (MSPK), Uttan organised a 'Green Bal Melava' for the six parishes of the Dharavi Island on February 14, 2019, at Our Lady of Vailankanni Shrine, Bhate, Uttan. Inspired by the ‘Green Bal Melava' held last year, Fr. Joseph Gonsalves, the Head of the AOE, and Fr. Leslie Malya, the Director of MSPK, joined forces to prepare and execute this programme. The entire event was conducted in Marathi. 581 children from standards VII, VIII and IX attended this programme from the parishes of Chowk, Dongri, Gorai, Manori, Pali and Uttan. The workforce of about 69 volunteers included the National Social Service team members from St. Joseph College Uttan, Confirmation students from the parishes of Uttan and Pali, Sisters, Sunday School catechists and the office staff of Muktisagar, all of whom were instrumental in the successful completion of the event.
The Green Bal Melava began with a meaningful prayer service conducted by Fr. Leslie that was based on the Creation story from the Bible and highlighted the need to care for creation. The ice-breakers conducted by Br. Sunil and Br. Dylan consisted of nature handshakes, making a list of common and eco-friendly items in the group, and a rock-paper-scissors game based on nature that really charged up the children and created a lot of excitement among them. The resource person for the programme, Fr. Joseph Gonsalves made the children aware of the harm and destruction which humans are causing to nature – both knowingly and unknowingly. He highlighted the causes of such destruction and suggested steps and mechanisms for mitigation. His simple and friendly approach brought in a lot of awareness in the minds of the children, especially avoiding wastage of natural resources. The nurses-in-training from Hinduja College then presented a street play on the use of mobile phones and social media today with a purpose to show how much of unnecessary time and resources are being wasted on the same. With the intention of understanding our role in protecting and preserving our environment, Holy Eucharist was then celebrated by Fr. Leslie.
The post-lunch session was highly interactive as the children were engaged in action songs, clicking parish selfies and energisers in the form of wave yells. Children were then sent to their respective groups for case-study discussion based on environmental protection and preservation and were asked to prepare appealing and creative taglines based on their cases through chart work. Fr. Joseph encouraged all those who presented their chart work, creating a sense of joy in the hearts of many. Some of the taglines that were presented were really inspiring and creative. Fr. Leslie then thanked all those who helped in organising this mega-event. Everyone then proceeded to the grounds for outdoor games followed by the distribution of gifts, a special takeaway mug with a message in Marathi. The enthusiastic participation of the children in the various activities and sessions has certainly left an imprint on their minds to be future change agents in protecting and caring for Mother Earth.