ISLAMABAD: Haziq Fawad is on a mission. Uniformed and alert, he leads his spectators through a small paper-gate into the display area, describing in hurried detail the effect of greenhouse gases on the earth’s atmosphere before he pauses to ask, “Have you ever imagined a garden without trees?”
For Haziq, 7, who was representing the Rawalpindi branch of Roots International School at the WWW-Pakistan Nature Carnival, such a garden would reflect human neglect towards the environment, a prospect that fuels his own resolve to look after the planet.
When the guided tour ends, the young student extends his hand for a steely shake, “Do you promise to plant a tree for your planet?”
The WWF-Pakistan and Fauji Fertilizer paired up this Sunday to make environmental awareness fun and intelligible to the public at large, engaging thousands of people with thought-provoking school exhibits on themes including illegal hunting, green neighbourhoods, the benefit of trees and disaster preparedness among others.
“I learnt so much about trees in helping my son prepare for this carnival,” said Fawad Ahmed, a parent attending the carnival who feels that children should be exposed to the benefits of a healthy planet in order to become conscientious adults. “This will have a great impact.”
Hamza Zia, 11, has similar wisdom to impart. Feverishly colouring the grass in his drawing which shows smiling trees, Zia relates a litany of benefits that trees can bring. “They give us oxygen, they give us shadow… basically if there were no trees, there would be no life!” He quipped.
At another stall, Waleed bin Tarmeed, 13, from the Beaconhouse School System, is a lot shyer in explaining the need for disaster management. “We cannot stop disasters from happening, or even predict them most of the times, but we can definitely cope with them when they happen,” he explained.
Over 100 stalls were set up by schools, college and universities, in addition to which, competitions, eco-friendly games, puppets, juggling and a lucky draw kept visitors glued at the Fatima Jinnah Park.
Capital Development Authority Chairman Maroof Afzal, who was the chief guest at the event, encouraged people to think in terms of sustainability.
“We should start taking care of the things we need for our survival,” he impressed upon the crowd the need to educate the youth about the environment, and to invest future generations in the fight to keep the planet healthy.
According to Rawalpindi DCO Sajid Zafar Dall, the carnival is essential in bringing together public and private institutions to a common platform through which they are able to recognise their roles and responsibilities in finding solutions for global and ecological changes.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2014.