04 November, 2012

School Kids plea to protect the Trees

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Standing alongside the trees like old friends, a group of children pledged their affection for the trees of great age by appealing the city administrators to protect the trees. The students of Khaldunia High School learned about the significant role of trees in our lives on a cultural caravan. The caravan was organised by the Funkor Child Art Center and Khaldunia School to inculcate a sense of respect and awareness among the youth about the cultural and natural heritage of Islamabad.

Khaldunia kids under the tree called Maa teh Nau Bachey (Mother and Nine Children).

The first stop of the caravan was in Kaleenjar valley where the children had a chance to witness the majestic ancient tree known as “Mother and Nine Children.” From far-off, the thousand year old tree appear a cluster of ten individual trees but only a closer look unveil the illusion which overwhelmed the little kids. “I wish I could live here forever”, uttered one student referring to the tree. But it is unfortunate to note that the location of the tree in a high security zone makes it difficult to access for public.

Fauzia Minallah, founder of the Funkor Child Art Centre explained to the children that, “Mother and Nine Children tree is one of the magnificent examples of Banyan tress in Islamabad.” These trees are special because of its ‘mothering’ nature as the aerial roots of the primary tree find their way back into thick woody trunks with age, and become indistinguishable from the parent trunk, she added. “Old Banyan trees, challenged by time and storms, yet still intact, require serious preservation efforts by authorities” stressed Ms. Minallah.

Banyan or pipal trees, found in the heart of Islamabad’s heritage sites, have witnessed the growth of the capital city but the development projects are now threatening the cherished trees. After exploring the beauty of the trees and indulging in playful activities, from climbing, swinging, and playing amongst the leafy branches of the trees, the children also painted a sign urging the Capital Development Authority to protect the trees; each child holding up one letter to reflect that the kids were united in their effort to save these enduring symbols of culture and history.

The caravan then headed towards the Buddhist caves. The historical cavern raised excitement and questions as the little explorers delved deep into the caves. The last stop was Golra Railway Station where the young travellers walked into the splendid era of steam engines.

After spending a busy day discovering the marvels of nature in huge, old trees, and historical caves, the children may well have developed respect for the rich cultural heritage within Islamabad. But the huge task that still lay ahead would be to develop a tree-caring attitude among the masses and to raise awareness about the importance of trees among the authorities concerned.

Originally published in Pakistan Observer