We made Gutkha addicts realize the harm they are causing to themselves, their families and the community by being slaves to their addiction!
Every morning when we alighted from our buses to enter the school we saw empty packets of Gutkha lying around in the bus parking area. We felt that we needed to educate our drivers and conductors about the perils of eating Gutkha. Some of us also had family members addicted to it. What came as a clincher was a presentation made to us by a representative of the Cancer Society of India. When we saw what Gutkha eating did to people we knew that this would be our project and we would not only talk to our immediate community but also go out to Ognaj (our nearest residential community) and talk to the residents.
<ul><li>Once the idea crystallized the plan of action had to be put into motion. Our group tossed around ideas on how to approach the issue. After a lot of brainstorming we decided on the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Take a survey in Ognaj village and gather data on Gutkha addicts </li></ul><ul><li>Take out a rally </li></ul><ul><li>Perform street plays at various point of the village </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews </li></ul>
We visited the Civil Hospital Cancer Department and borrowed banners, brochures and slogans from them (thank you Dr. Gita Joshi!)
Armed with survey sheets 60 students visited 230 households and spoke to family members. We found that around 40% of the households had members chewing Gutkha.
The next day we took out a rally on the streets of Ognaj village .
The next task was to bring awareness through a street play at three strategic locations of the village.
The culminating part of this event was interviewing residents of Ognaj village, drivers and conductors to gather data on how many of them had given up the habit of chewing Gutkha after our presentations. It was heartening to know that almost 50% of the addicts had already thrown away the Gutkha pouches!!!
There are many ills in our society and tobacco chewing is probably one of the worst. When we took up this drive we were quite ill-informed about the actualities. But the survey and the interaction with the Ognaj residents opened our eyes to ground realities. We also realized that it was not only the lower strata of society that was in the grips of this menace – even members our own families and our neighborhood were slaves to this addiction. We deeply felt the need to do something about it. As soon as we began working on this project we found ourselves becoming more and more sensitive to this issue. Today we can proudly claim that not only the team that was directly involved in this project but the entire school has taken it upon themselves to fight the menace of tobacco and Gutkha!.