25.03.2011 Orchard Toys helps children in rural India
Last month a package of jigsaw puzzles, containing a quantity of Where in the Wood? and Who’s in the Jungle? were sent out to India, with the complements of Orchard Toys.
Working in conjunction with Travel Operators for Tigers (TOFT)*, we sent our jigsaws with Chairman, Julian Matthews, to one of their projects in forest village schools bordering tiger parks in India. They are very simple schools with few, if any, educational material, where the jungle jigsaws would be most appreciated by junior school pupils.
TOFT work with rural schools to ensure that young children learn about the importance of the conservation of their local habitat, and consequently the animals that it supports, for the future economic benefit of their village and locality. Tourism is a rich source of income for rural India and, seeing that tourists want to see tigers and other wildlife, it is essential that the young learn the value of conservation.
On his return to the UK, Julian commented, “When the Gond tribal children, in central India, were given the jigsaw puzzles for the first time, the adults nestled in to try and do them first, never having done a puzzle before ! I heard that their children then spent the next day and most of the night doing them over and over again, so intrigued were they.
“It’s amazing that jigsaw puzzles, something that we all take as a natural part of growing up, have never been experienced by probably tens of millions of kids - and adults - across rural India.”
The jigsaws went to Sakata and Mohgaon schools in the Kurai district of Madhya Pradesh, two forest village schools that are in the centre of a critical tiger corridor and habitat. They occasionally hear the tigers roar at night from their homes, but they do not worry about them, as they are seen as god-like creatures of the forest.
These children often have to guard their crops at night from a small ‘machan’ or homemade tree house, against herbivores like spotted deer and wild pig, that eat their rice and wheat. The Orchard Toys’ jigsaw puzzles illustrate, as well as the tiger, many similar creatures that the children live among and see most days.
Our MD, Simon Newbery said, “It’s great to be in a position to help rural school children in India learn about the importance of saving their tigers, albeit in a very small way!”
* TOFT is a 'supply chain' pressure campaign initiative aimed at a Global collective and inclusive Travel trade response to the tiger crisis in India, and by association, all the forests and wildlife being affected in the Indian subcontinent. http://www.toftigers.org/