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Kids seek to change entrenched mindsets

schoolFirst they offer you chocolate while making you sit at their stall in the hall that is already buzzing with videos playing and explanations blowing. You might find it difficult to swallow the inconvenient truths the youngsters - 10-year-olds - are showering upon you. The ‘wonder’ continues as you are moving stall to stall listening to these boys and girls - 70 of them - telling you the perils of smoking, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade among other burning topics.

But you come away delighted not only because you are enlightened, but you are pleasantly surprised at what Jahra kids can do. “I was overjoyed to work with my friends as a team on my favorite topic - women’s rights in Pakistan,” said Abdulrahman. “It was the news of Malala Yousef, the Pakistani girl who fights for girls’ education in her country, that led my friends and me to do a campaign about women’s rights in Pakistan,” said Fahad, a team member.

The exhibition held on Thursday, June 30, at Kuwait Bilingual School, Jahra had 20 stalls with teams of 5th graders elucidating social awareness topics from conserving water to war and displacement in Syria.

Hussein Ghassie, who was clad in bloody clothes enacting as a civilian from Syria, said, “My friend Omar and me were thinking of how to get the Syrian story across and we came up with the idea of doing a role-play.” “My greatest happiness was to explain - and convince - my father about the killings of dogs in Kuwait,” said Farah Nadi. Farah had asked her father to buy a toy dog for the exhibit ‘to give a punch’ to the topic.

The toy dog stood at their counter, fashionably dressed wearing sunglasses. “Dogs are killed in Kuwait for fun,” said team members Moudhi and Sarah. Together they showed a video of dogs killed in China for their meat to be served at restaurants. Animal abuse was the theme of Lulwa and her friends who went to an animal shelter - Kuwait K-9 club in Kabd. “We posed with the dogs there and took videos of the wonderful things those volunteers do for dogs who are abandoned or are given for care,” Lulwa said. “Our earth will turn to a big zibaala (trash dump)” was the welcome note Maryam Aladdin and her friend greet with at their pollution stall.

They had Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth’ song playing while their banners and laptop screen cried of acid rains and thermal pollution. Aftermaths of alcohol consumption and drug abuse, slavery, deforestation and chicks colored for fun were some of the other topics the youth delved deep into as part of the social awareness exhibition. “What are you going to do after the exhibition,” this writer asked a student whose topic was wasting electricity. “We’ll launch a website to make people aware of the overuse of electricity”, he confidently replied.

By Sunil Cherian

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This article was published on 07/06/2013