School students from Portugal and Goa, who have co-authored a multi-lingual, illustrated book of short stories on rivers and seas, have mirrored concerns about water pollution and scarcity across the European country and its former colony in India, while also featuring Goa’s controversial offshore casinos that dot the Mandovi river off Panaji.
The book “Stories from Here and Beyond”, which has been authored by 10- and 12-year-old children from Auxilium High School in North Goa and Alberta Menéres School located in Sintra, Portugal, was released earlier this week. Nalini Elvino de Souza, who kickstarted the concept, claims that over 400 students from both schools were involved in the project, which spanned over a period of five months.
“Students from both schools were asked to write a story on the subject of water pollution. The schools then exchanged stories which was followed by drawing up of illustrations for the stories by the students. The students also created two animated short films based on the stories,” de Souza told IANS.
de Souza runs the Communicare Trust, a language learning centre near Panaji, which collaborated with Raquel Salgueiro and Rui Andrade, publishers from Portugal, to produce the book. Andrade said water pollution is a common issue of concern in both Portugal and Goa, as it is elsewhere on the globe.
“Water pollution is a global issue; we had a dry winter in Portugal as the dams had very low water-levels. Everyone panicked and thought about how to survive the summer… One of the issues faced in both Goa and Portugal is to preserve the fish that are reducing in number because of water pollution and plastic bags found at sea,” Salgueiro said.
The short stories in the book are published in four languages, English, Portuguese, Konkani and Hindi and spell out water-pollution related concerns, as seen through the eyes of children.
“The students wrote their stories which made sense to us as the situations created by the students in Portugal could happen in Goa, like the fisherwoman and a boy falling into the water from a casino. Some parts of the stories the students had to imagine. For example, the Portuguese students have not seen floating casinos but imagined and illustrated them as per the story,” de Souza said.
“The common theme we came up with and discussed with the students was waste management and the students came up with their stories. We didn’t find any difficulties as children are not complicated and are easy to work with,” she said, adding, that the book offers the reader a peek into the thoughts and aspirations of children aged between 10 and 12 years and their views on water pollution.
“This is just the beginning, we plan to take this project to more countries. We know that students learn a lot more about different cultures and traditions through the exchange of ideas, sharing based on simple themes which are a global issue such as water pollution,” de Souza said.