8th - 10th November 2013 - A report by Aparna Khanikar (Award Leader, Maria's Public School, Guwahati)
"The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask." - Nancy Wynne Newhall
With the quest to unreveal the wilderness as Nancy Wynne Newhall has quoted, the 2nd batch of the Bronze and the Silver aspirants from Maria's Public School, Birkuchi, Narengi, with their two Award Leaders and a nature anchor from Eco Concept, set forth to unfold the mysteries of the wild in Mawlynnong, Meghalaya. A village that got its name "Mawlynnong" from the bowl shaped stones that surround the village and in which the villagers harvested rainwater. Interesting indeed!!
The anticipation of the camp, the bonfire and the meals to be self-cooked and served, had already ignited the spirit of the 35 young Award aspirants who were about to spend the next two nights and three days in the wild...
Every aspirant was excited about the camp and the trek which were to follow over the next two days. The enchanting beauty of the Cherrapunjee hills welcomed us the very first day on our way to Mawlynnong. The adventure for the day started with the aspirants challenging themselves at the zip line at which every aspirant completed with absolute delight. Later on our trek continued to the most exotic and enchanting caves of Mawsmai.
Exploring the caves from one end to the other with minds alert for the wild call of the bat, the eyes in constant look-out for the sharp tips of the calcite formations and wading through the pools of water creeping out of the crevices - the whole experience was mind blowing.
Later that day disembarking from the vehicles we were welcomed by the enchanting beauty of the quiet village. After the participants settled down in their camps and the allotted cottages, the evening beckoned the night trail for 4 km with a little quiz set by our nature anchor which aroused the participants' interest and curiosity. The quiz was designed for the participants to be observant and alert about their surroundings. With many answers revealed, the participants' happiness knew no bounds and they eagerly awaited the trek for the next morning.
The second day trek was challenging with firewood collections to be done by the students on their trail for the fire to cook the morning meal. This inspired the aspirants to be vigilant and observant throughout the trek and also helped them to develop a sound team spirit. After trudging and trailing the path for 10 km, a dip in the gurgling stream of the waterfalls was quite relaxing.
The hike uphill to the base camp later was tough but it did not discourage the young minds and the night went well with gleeful singing and dancing around the campfire.
The third day trek was to the living root bridge; this was one among the many living root bridges that the community of Mawlynnong treasure. Walking downhill for 8 km, the sight of the living root bridge mesmerized us. The root bridge was formed by the rubber plants being planted by the villagers on both sides of the stream and the roots of both the trees weaved together to form the bridge which helped them commute with ease. The Award aspirants were awestruck to find human beings at such remote area of our country living in so much harmony with nature. The living root bridge symbolised a living example of sustainable development.
As it is rightly said that every good thing comes to an end, our wonderful trek also came to an end, but it left our minds and cameras brimming with wonderful memories. This opportunity given to us by our school can never be forgotten. My heartiest thanks to the Managing trustee and the principal of Maria's Public school for introducing IAYP (International Award for Young People) into the school curriculum and giving the students the privilege to explore themselves. I also thank the IAYP Award Foundation for the opportunities being provided to the young minds to become better citizens of the country. My sincere thanks to the president of Eco Concept for enlightening the Award aspirants on every aspect in this Adventurous Journey and for making this event a successful one to cherish lifelong. click for pictures