SAPLING - Students Against Polluted LivING, 1992-97

Inspired by the Rio conference, a few of our friends, students of JNTU Architecture, Hyderabad Central University, Pendekanti Law College, St. Francis and other institutions - got together and formed a voluntary group called SAPLING-Students Against Polluted Living.

Sapling's first initiative was a Tree Plantation programme at Saroor Nagar Colony on August 15, 1992. We pooled some money from friends and relatives, got saplings and tree guards from HUDA and T Shirts with a sponsorship from 7 Up. We had registered the group in 1993. Held camps and planted 1500 saplings with support from Directorate of Youth Affairs; Initiated waste segregation and a door-to door garbage collection scheme at MCH. Took up Advocacy campaigns on Environment (Deccan Development Society), Child Rights - BAJA, Youth for Kids with support from UNICEF- conducted more than 500 shows in Hyderabad and across the State between 1992-1997.

During 1992–1998 Sapling worked in close association with State Government Departments at various levels, local bodies' functionaries, other NGOs and international and United Nations agencies such as UNICEF.

The campaigns:

UNICEF-Department of Youth Services campaign BAJA – Bala Jagriti: `Bala Jagriti' meaning the ‘Awakening of Children’. The child-to-child campaign focused on issues related to girl child, child labour, age of marriage and right to education. The campaign covered over 1,00,000 children in Andhra Pradesh. I was responsible for design, co-ordination, scripting, choreography and concept development.

  • Youth For Kids’ Campaign – A campaign mobilising young people (18-plus) to advocate for Child Rights 5 districts of Andhra Pradesh. Trained youth were sensitized on CRC and were responsible for outreach activities in Panchayats, schools in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Cuddapah, Nellore, Guntur Districts of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Advocacy Campaign on Village-level Operation and Maintenance of Hand-Pumps, which focused on self-reliance and community maintenance of hand pumps.
  • A series of Street Plays on the theme ‘Save Our Earth’ in three languages – a programme supported by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, mainly involving children's performing and follow-up action teams.
  • Preparation of IEC material on HIV/AIDS for Save The Children UK, August’02

Five advocacy albums for the Bala Jagriti, campaign on Child Rights and Child Labour for Unicef sponsored by the India Population Project, Director of Social Welfare etc.

  • Ninna Memu Balalam- Ee nadu Yuva Janulam on Child Rights presented by Youth for the Commissioner of Youth Services.
  • Baljagriti in Urdu for the Quli Qutubshah Urban development Authority with 35 shows in the old city for the Rajeev Gandhi trust.
  • Maa Voori Pampu Mana Bimde Nimpu on the Village Level Operation and Maintenance of Hand Pumps For the Panchayath Raj Engineering Department, supported by Unicef. 125 performances in Shameerpet and Medchal Mandals
  • An advocacy album on the social aspects of stigmatization and the antagonistic attitude and taboo against the children of HIV Positive and AIDS patients Chiru Deepam for the Save the Children – UK, South Zone. Nine songs and 5 playlets — ready for take-off in seven districts of AP and Orissa. Sixty minutes programmes in Telugu, Oriya and Hindi.

The passion, commitment and optimism of the Sapling team is carried long and far beyond the activities of the students’ days and some of the core team now continues to work for the Turaga Foundation.