Paper- Recycling Workshop for Children, Rawal Resource Center, Islamabad, Pakistan, 22nd -24th September, 2007
Children are not just our future but present as well. They are an important stakeholder in the development of a nation. According to Child Rights Convention, the most rectified document, it is the right of children to have a clean and safe environment. But at the same time children must be directed to take responsibilities for their actions if they are to assert their rights.
Recycling is one of the most important ways of saving energy and conserving environment. Pakistan is an energy deficient country. A lot of energy can be conserved by merely recycling things like plastic, paper etc.
A two days workshop on paper recycling was held for children on 22nd and 24th September, 2007. The purpose of this workshop was to raise awareness about the environmental issues among children and let them determine actions to improve their surroundings. It was not limited to make paper but implicitly tried to develop an attitude in children to recycle as many things as they can. Paper being simpler to recycle could stimulate the interest of children and would lead them to think of other ways to make this world a better place to live.
The workshop was organized in resource center of a public school in Islamabad with the help of Education Development Center (EDC) and Adult and Basic Education Society (ABES), Pakistan. These organizations provided assistance in the logistics and paper recycling training respectively. A total of 40 children and peer mentors between the ages of 10 to 14 participated in the workshop.
Story of a paper- told by children
The children made their own stories about paper. All of these started with the trees, transforming into paper and eventually ending up in landfills. As they discussed these stories, it was concluded that if we continue to cut trees with no or fewer replanting; soon there will be no trees in the world. No child wanted to live in a world without trees. They agreed to keep their surroundings clean by wasting less.
It was also concluded that life must be respected in all forms. Paper is life as it comes from trees and therefore, it should also be respected. These realizations changed the perspectives of the participants about things around them. Now they wanted to learn ways to recycle paper to save a life. The recycled paper will be used for drawing, writing stories, greeting cards and many more creative ways.
Getting Down to Work-Recycling Paper
Two resource persons from ABES conducted this session with children. During this children came to know about the history of paper and the sources from which paper can be obtained. There are many kinds of paper depending on its material and quality. Each kind of paper is used for a different purpose.
The two trainers demonstrated the whole process of making recycled paper. The children watched with great interest and asked many questions about the process. Later they were given a chance to make their own papers. Resources like net frames are though useful in making paper but not a limitation. Children were also told about the alternatives methods of making paper with fewer and low-cost resources.
At first they were a little apprehensive about executing it on their own, but once they gained the confidence then there was no stopping for them. The children got really enthusiastic in making recycled paper. They worked together in groups and helped each other in the process. The experience provided useful learning for everyone. A sense of accomplishment could be seen on their faces as they put the paper on the board. That is just the beginning of bringing about a great change.
At the end, they were shown the ways to use this paper by making cards, notebooks, teaching aids and many more wonderful things. For them it was a miracle called “paper”.
Sharing experiences and Learning from others
Mr. Mannan Rana, from UNICEF, Islamabad introduced children to their rights and the initiative of change-makers in Pakistan. He gave the examples of a few change-makers and inspired all children to act like one them too. The participants were motivated and everyone agreed to be the change-maker in his/her own way.
Samina Sardar, of FOCUS Humanitarian Organization, Pakistan, has an extensive experience of working with children. She discussed the work of children and asked them to come up with the ways to work towards a better future. She told them that you don’t have to wait to grow up to do something, now is the time for action. If we all do a little, we can accomplish a lot.
Imran Rizvi, of AMAL-Human Development Network, Pakistan, and Humaira Naseer, of Rural Support Program Network, Islamabad, urged children to be the change they want to see in the world. They were impressed with the ways children had worked and encouraged them to bring a positive change to the world around them. They appreciated the efforts of the organizers and emphasized the need of replicating this activity in other parts of the country. They also asked their peers to support the children in their initiatives and that such activities should continue to happen.
Manzoor Wahid, of EDC encouraged the children for their efforts. He accentuated the importance of paper recycling and explained that paper recycling was essential because this saved cutting trees. If we save cutting trees, the weather of the area would remain moderate and also that we would achieve timely and adequate rainfall, much needed for our agricultural run economy.
The representative of National Commission of Child Welfare Department, Pakistan, appreciated the efforts and work of children. He promised to support the activities of children in every possible way.
Based on the discussions and learning of the two days, the children came up with their own plan of actions. They worked together in small groups and came up with action points which will be taken forward by them. The key points included:
v We will stop other children from throwing paper away.
v We will collect used paper from the children in the school.
v We will make recycled paper.
v We will use this recycled paper to make notebooks, drawing books and writing stories.
v We will teach our friends and peers to make recycled paper.
v We will work TOGETHER and keep our environment clean.
In the end children were presented with badges as a token of participation. These badges were created out of the recycled paper made by children themselves. It had written on it “The Green Change-makers”, a name agreed upon by all the children for their group.
Recommendations:It is recommended that such activities must be done with children on regular basis and not as one time event. There should be follow-up for these so that children can build on their previous learning.