I have always enjoyed the trips and picnics our school takes us for. They are a good break from studies and a time to refresh our minds. This year, our school decided to take us to the Ropar wetlands in Punjab. But, we were not excited. We were hoping for a trip to Jaipur or some other historical place.
Despite our disappointment, my friends–Shalini, Diya, Raji and Jaya–and I gathered at my house around 5:00 pm to plan the trip to the wetlands. Next morning, my father dropped me at the airport and in no time, we were in the plane ready for the takeoff. We all shouted, 'Wetlands, here we come!'
Once we reached our hotel, we looked out of the window and saw the Ropar wetlands. It was a very beautiful and biologically diverse area. Our teachers said that it was located in the lower Himalayas and was a tourist spot for birdwatching and boating.
On the third day of our trip, our teachers told us the secret mission they had planned before deciding this trip. It was to start the second Chipko movement. But this time it was not for the trees but for the wetlands. Our teachers told us how the government downgraded the water of Ropar wetlands from grade A to grade D. And now it was on us to make an informative flyer regarding the importance of wetlands and especially Ropar wetlands. The flyer would then be distributed in the city with the morning newspapers.
For the next two days, we wrote, edited and made graphics. Once we finished, we printed around 30,000 copies and gave it to the local hawkers for distribution.
The next morning, we saw many people reading the flyers. We felt proud and happy that our efforts had worked. We quickly decided the next plan of action with our teachers. We organized a rally, a street play and made placards to display our slogans.
The rally began next morning and ended in a couple of hours. We also performed a street play after the rally with some of the students displaying the slogans we had written on placards. We had to wrap the programme up soon as we had to board the 6:00 pm flight that same evening.
Once we boarded the plane, Raji sat near the window, staring at the wetlands and said, 'This trip really meant a lot.'
When our class teacher walked down the aisle, I asked her, 'Ma’am, why did we do these things in this trip?' Our teacher walked to the front and started speaking, 'Wetlands are a part of our environment and it is our responsibility to protect them because they too protect us. They are the best weapon for disaster management. They protect us from floods and purify the ground water. They are also home to many birds and animals. Even the smallest effort can bring a change in the world.'
I stood up and cheered, 'Hip, hip, hurry for the Second Chipko movement–for our wetlands!' Everyone on the flight joined in, 'Hip, hip, hurray!'