KOCHI:A barren land of 10 acres and 40 cents near Bhavan's Adarsha Vidyalaya, Kakkanad is now a beautiful paradise, thanks to the continuous and consistent efforts of a retired teacher and environment enthusiast Sathi Devi.
Turning the unfruitful land into a productive and beautiful space was not an easy thing. Through her various attempt and hard work, It took 15 years to grow a promised full-fledged forest there. The first step towards this commendable change occurred when they planted some trees in 1991. The official step for moving forward with this project was done by planting a 'Terminalia bellirica' tree in 1992. Her further efforts included building nests in every tree with the motto "Let the birds sing" so that the birds could have a happy habitat. This was the first theme of the forestry club which started on July 31, 1992. The club was recognized by OISCA and she was awarded the best teacher coordinator. Currently, there are hundreds of varieties of trees planted by the forestry club in Bhavan's Adarsha Vidyalaya, Kakkanad.
She is strongly supported by students and teachers of the school. "This expedition of turning a desolate land into a fertile woodland was a path filled with so many difficulties. We are attached to every single tree standing here," Sathi said.
Even after years of this achievement, she stands grounded and strong as an inspiration for today's generation. According to her, a good teacher always goes beyond bookish knowledge and moulds her students to become a better person of tomorrow. Her education is not confined within the four walls of the classroom; she has taught students the lessons of life through nature, thereby making it her textbook. She encouraged every student to plant a tree, and this was mostly done in her presence as she loved to be a part of such moments and share it with her students. She successfully inculcated the thirst for the love for nature and value education in her students.
A retired teacher, Sathi was able to develop the personality of her students through various cultural activities. Her main aim was to make her students aware of their inner abilities and talents through field trips to forests. She was actively involved in taking students to various forests through the club. "I have a strong interest in nature conservation, mainly through planting trees. This materialised through the forestry club and also instilled the same interest in the school," she said.
As an environmental activist, Sathi is not only involved in planting trees but is also actively involved in writing short stories and poems about nature describing its beauty and necessity. "Nature brings out the innocence hidden inside everyone. Only the coming generation can sustain the beauty and greenery of the earth and this can be done through the continuous motivation from a teacher" she said.
It has been two years since she retired as a Malayalam teacher from Bhavan's Adarsha Vidyalaya, Kakkanad. Currently, she is giving voice recordings for smart class lessons, writing Malayalam textbooks for children and she is working on her poems and short stories in which some are published.
All of this was not a cakewalk for her, she faced a lot of criticisms and some even tried to downpour her by calling her insane. But Sathi with her motivational work gave a fitting reply to all those critics. For her relentless efforts in preserving the nature, she was awarded Vanamithra Award in 2010 by Kerala Forest Department. "Whatever I am today is because of God's grace and strong support from my students. Without them, I would not have come this far," said Sathi Devi. Her journey beyond the textbooks leaving behind an inspirational legacy.
Barren to plenty
The barren land in Kakkanad was spread across in 10 acres and 40 cents. In 1991, under the leadership of Sathi Devi, some trees were planted in the land. As an official step, a ‘terminalia bellirica’ tree was planted in 1992. 15 years later, the area is a full-fledged forest