Children have always been known to be silent observers and are great imitators of people who are older than them. Across the globe, schools have been shut because of the ongoing pandemic, thus, leaving kids with ample time to do whatever they want. However, in Garo Hills, there is a different story altogether.
Children going on agrobiodiversity (ABD) walks have been a common activity among the partner communities of NESFAS. However, in Darechikgre (West Garo Hills) the children are surprising the elder who accompanies them on their walks by identifying wild edibles and plants before being told what they are. It may be mentioned here that NESFAS had been conducting several awareness campaigns in the area and spoke about the importance of consuming at least five of the 10 food groups, wild edibles, vegetables, and all local and healthy foods. Different Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials have also been distributed to the community members to be able to identify the plants.
Darechikgre field coordinator Benibirth B Marak conducted an ABD walk recently as part of the Nutritional Campaign for children who are six to 15 years of age. Around 21 children took part in the walk and surprisingly, were able to identify several wild edibles and plants.
“I was taken aback when the children were able to identify almost 10 wild edibles and plants after walking for just a few kilometers at the Tura Peak. It was more impressive that they were able to do it without any of the elders’ help,” Marak said. Bullani B Marak and Norime B Marak, two Anganwadi workers from the community, who accompanied the CF and children to the forest on the ABD walk were also impressed with the children’s knowledge to identify plants.
The walk is accompanied by Anganwadi worker Mrs.Bullani B Marak and Norime B Marak and 21 numbers of children took part in the walk and identified varieties of wild food plants in total children could identify 10 wild edibles within a walk of few kilometers at the base of Tura peak.
Among the participants, four-year-old Sengbian Marak was able to identify three wild edibles and also shared his experience on the benefits of the identified plants. Jhon Carry A Sangma, a three-year-old participant, shared that the Pasim green wild edible creeper has healing properties for mild allergy reactions, and also Aritdak sour wild edibles are good for cold and flu including boosting immunity. He said, “I knew about these properties and was able to identify the plants because my parents would always ask me to consume wild edibles. While doing so they would also explain their importance.” He added, “I would always observe my parents when they pound or create herbal medicines out of these plants.”