A silent war that we are fighting today has changed the way we look at ourselves and also at the world. The invisible enemy, the pandemic, is revealing truths that we had never acknowledged before, forcing us to confront our inner selves. Different cultures are facing the crisis in different ways, but people everywhere feel the same stress and exhaustion.
In these times of uncertainty, the mental health of children has perhaps been most adversely affected. Children too are learning how to adjust to the changing times. The rural children, in my opinion, are doing it better since they are not cooped up in their homes like the children in the cities –they are out playing together, getting the healing touch of nature. Living in my village during the pandemic has given me the opportunity to know these children more closely.
How has the uncertainty of the times affected the children? I ask myself. How have their families, their community and politics impacted their minds?
To find the right answers, I began to work with the children of my neighborhood towards the beginning of July. I observed them, talked to them and helped them find ways to express their creative imagination and their innate sense of beauty. At the first stage, I asked them to make masks with whatever natural objects they could lay their hands on. The children collected different kinds of leaves to make the masks without using any synthetic materials such as plastic. This was a reflection of their appreciation of everything natural and their commitment to preserve nature. At the second stage of my work, I helped the children collect the leaves shed by the trees with which we made globe like replica of Mother Earth. The fallen leaves represent uncertainty, decline and sorrow, but their colors give out hope for the arrival of tomorrow. Green leaves, on the other symbolize hope, continuity and rebirth.
While I worked with the children I was amazed to see how easily they form a bond with the soil. The attraction they feel for it is reflected in the things they make with clay. Although done rather playfully, these artefacts have an imprint of their makers. The activities I engaged the children in helped them find a deep pleasure in creating something new. They all felt rejuvenated, and this keeps my hope alive in the future.