Message in a Bottle
by Namrata Lunia
With schools shut since March 2020 and there being limited access to online education, the educational and social needs of children from the fishing communities of Tamil Nadu have been significantly impacted. In order to address these concerns, SNEHA, an organisation working with women and children of fishing communities in the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, has been trying to raise funds with the help of Dakshin, for creating child activity and learning centres in 14 coastal villages. These centres will provide academic support (including orientation to e-learning), educational material and access to counseling services. Awareness sessions on various topics such as child rights will be organised, extracurricular activities will be encouraged and a safe space for children to come and discuss their thoughts will be created through these centres. Besides this, health check-ups and provision of nutritional supplements will also be undertaken.
In order to launch the fundraiser, we organised a Children’s Day initiative called Message in a bottle for the children associated with SNEHA. This initiative encouraged children to write letters to their favorite marine animals while Hariprasath R from Dakshin wrote back on behalf of the marine animals.
Letters to whales, sea turtles, seahorses and more, poured in once the children were intimated of this learning opportunity by SNEHA. The honesty and pre-existing knowledge of sea animals made these letters a delightful read for everyone. One particular letter, written by Leenashree, a 9th grader from Tamil Nadu, empathized with the pain that male seahorses face when only a few of their offspring survive out of the 2000 that the male seahorse gives birth to. She ended the letter by wishing that seahorses live along with later generations instead of disappearing with the next generation. Another student Raagashree recounted how she’d helped a beached whale along with her father.
As a next step to the initiative, we have put up the fundraiser on Milaap. If you would like to support the initiative, you could donate here or transfer money directly to SNEHA.