THE EARTH TIMES
May 5, 1993
Adults may be skeptical, but kids aren’t
By Ashali Varma
Daniela is 16 years old and lives in Zagreb in Croatia.
She has been involved with environmentally-organized Eco-Happenings in school and is active in promoting community awareness through articles and radio broadcasts.
She is also a member of the Peace Child organization and is instrumental in organizing its activities in Zagreb. She was on the inaugural trip with the Earth Train and is one of the youth leaders. On the issue of her country’s involvement in the environment, she says:
“I think that the experience I have from a country like Yugoslavia where ecological problems are simply drowned in the sea of political/economical difficulties, could be interesting for the others.”
Daniela’s ambitions and her vision are reflected in the letter she sent to the organizers of the Earth Train, “I started the project of Peace Child, a project where youth up to 20 years old meet, talk, discuss, and in that way learn tolerance, peaceful conflict resolution and respect, just what we lack in Croatia.
By the end of the program we have a theater play which is always very well accepted because it is warm, simple and honest. You say what you feel! Young people get emotionally involved easily and this project gives them time to express it and create something out of it.”
Another Earth Train devotee is Desiree.
At the age of 16 Desiree got her first taste of youth leadership when she acted as vocal and drama coach for her school’s “Musical Theater Company.” Now at 19 she is an active member of Citykids Foundation where her responsibilities are many. She manages and controls an 85 member youth repertory company and is also involved with a TV series for Jim Henson Productions.
She also started a group called “Youth Producing Solutions” which finds constructive ways of recycling, like giving cans to the homeless so they can get money for them when they have them recycled. Desi’s dream is that her kids will inherit a cleaner and better planet.
She is also a youth leader with the Earth Train and was on the inaugural trip with 170 children from 18 countries and describes it as one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences in her life. “It was both mentally and spiritually exhilarating and though it was very strenuous as we were constantly on the move and conducting workshop in different cities I enjoyed it very much.”
When asked about the kids who had impressed her the most she said:
“My friends from Croatia, I keep thinking about them and how full of life and fun they were and what they must be going through now. I can never forget the first time I saw Daniela, she was jumping up and down and laughing with sheer joy, she had never seen an ocean before, now I worry about her and the cruel war.
“What is truly wonderful about her is her outlook. Despite the dire circumstances she seems to keep her head up. She looks after the neighbors and collects blankets for the community. She has also done so much for the children. Since due to the war there is no school she organizes activities for the kids to keep them occupied and keep their spirits up.”