On International Day for Biological Diversity we are here to share about “Grandma’s Secret”, a children’s book that was inspired from the biodiversity walk with girls and women in our community. It all started from a walk in the forest with the girls and women from communities of Umsawriang, Umktieh and Syllei-u-lar villages in Ri Bhoi, part of an initiative under our community project “Mother Earth to Pot”. It was an exciting day for everyone especially for the team and the girls as we walk into the forest in search of wild edibles. The Mothers taught the girls to identify and name these plants with stories shared during the walk. It was a beautiful experience and yet at the same time we were saddened to hear about the changes happening to the surroundings. The Mothers shared “The forest and the water isn’t the same anymore”.
Stories shared during the walk, conversations with the children and the women in our community is how this story was borne. The team felt what better way to document this experience in a form of a story for our children and communities. “Grandma’s Secret “ though simple yet speaks volumes about the wisdom of our elders and the importance of intergenerational relationship.
We teamed up with the finest artist from our beautiful land Meghalaya, Careen J Langstieh who jumped right in when we shared this idea with her. For the past one year we have been working on this book with Careen who has worked on the illustrations beautifully. Gratitude to the women and children who supported this initiative, Pius Ranee Director of NESFAS who supported us with the scientific names of plants, our former team member Russell Shallam who had worked hard in conceptualizing the story and our never ending support from the Global Fund for Children, the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum.
This year’s theme “We’re part of the solution” is a reminder to ourselves that it is our responsibility to protect our biodiversity, so generously given by Mother Earth. The children’s book is a small initiative to plant seeds of wisdom in our children’s thoughts to understand Mother Earth. Children too can be part of the solution and we adults; mothers, father, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles can create those spaces for them through our teachings and sharing of knowledge.
And as the Native American Proverb saying: “We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors. We borrow it from our Children” is another reminder that we need to think and act for our children, our future generations ahead.
As we look forward to bringing this book to you and especially to our young ones, we wait and hope for better days to come when we can be together . We pray for the healing and safety of our people and communities worldwide who are suffering in this raging pandemic.