by Karen Laurie
MUMBAI, AUG 22, 2016: Make way, bhel and pizza. Say hello to 'Jowari bhel' and 'Bhakrizza'! Little master chef's have been dishing out delicious delicacies at the Don Bosco Provincial house in Matunga, with one goal, to help adults and their peers adopt sustainable food practices.
"Jowar is grown in Maharashtra, it is cost effective and plentiful, so we have created our own bhel recipe with jowar puffs. We have also used jowar bhakris as a base to create our own pizza, to encourage sustainable eating habits," Atul Khandhare said.
Khandhare is among a group of 15 slum children in Mumbai who have received a scholarship by the Don Bosco Development office, to participate in the New York Global Partners Juniors Programme (NYGPJP).
NYGPJP 2016, is a certificate programme, connecting children from across the globe with a common objective – to discuss food diversity and sustainability. The programme is run in collaboration with the education department of the New York City Mayor's office.
"The cost of the programme is 12,500 INR per child. Pomegranate Workshop, running the programme in Mumbai, choose 30 children in all, of which the Don Bosco Development office is fully funding 15 underprivileged children from the nearby slums. They have been carefully shortlisted after a screening process. The other 15 have signed up themselves," Father Savio Silveira, Vice Provincial of Don Bosco's Salesians in Mumbai said.
The 30 students from Mumbai, are from across the breadth of the city, each from a different school. They have met twice a week, for two months to research, investigate and draw conclusions on the city's food culture.
Through charts, poems, field visits, group discussions, food carts the young adults have examined how sustainable our food consumption habits are and the changes we need to make, to be more sensitised to the sustainability of food consumption patterns.
In the process, they have developed skills in research and writing, creative expression and effective communication. "Along with creating awareness, we have also taught the children the skill of filmmaking," Advaita Mane, of Pomegranate Workshop, said.
The students were taught how to handle a camera and given interviewing tips, following which they were taken on site to make a film on Feeding Diversity.
From the origins of the humble vada pav to its modern version with raw bananas, from the simple sandwiches to the improvised versions of chillie cheese toast and chocolate fillings, students traced the journey of popular food choices in Mumbai.
The many 'why's' of the students produced some interesting findings like, 'Why are Irani restaurants adorned with mirrors?' Answer: In olden times, possessing a mirror glass was a luxury that not many could afford. So Irani joints provided its customers the privilege of looking at themselves and enjoying a meal.
"I enjoyed the film making exercise, where we interviewed street food vendors, vegetable market vendors, restaurant owners among others. It was also very difficult as we had to hold the camera steady and it would rain sometimes," Pramina Yeshu Pilli said.
Twelve-year old Reena Kasbe enjoyed the camaraderie she shared with the different students and even the conversations with her global counterparts. "Students were often taken to the research centre which connected all the global participants of the programme through a common online platform to interact," Mane said.
Through project-based learning and online communication, the young adults have developed their literacy and critical-thinking skills, making them global citizens and of course, little experts of sustainability!