An elephant for Plain Ink


Selene came to India for a Plain Ink project with a UN 1% Fund. This consisted in reprinting and distributing five thousand copies of Gau Ke Shilpi – the educational comics for children which aims to give basics of nutrition, health, personal and collective hygiene in a funny and enjoyable way – for free. The text is bilingual, Hindi and English.  

In less than two weeks the copies were ready to be distributed. We started to contact many schools in the city, on the banks of the river, in the villages around our centre and in a country area about thirty kilometers far from Varanasi. Many schools answered positively.  

Selene thought of renting an elephant and doing the rounds of the villages near our school to call attention to the event and begin to hand the book out. So, on a Monday morning, the male adult elephant Bhola showed up in our school. Bhola, forty-five years old, is one of the elephants the raja of Varanasi uses during his parades. While we were arranging all the material with the kids, Bhola had breakfast with our garden, with branches of Pipal tree (Ficus religiosa) in particular.  

The children were galvanized by the presence of the big pachyderm and they would have admired him all day. Meanwhile the band and a group of shehnai players arrived, the Indian oboe whose sound is considered very good omen. After washing and decorating the elephant, the mahuts tied Plain Ink posters and we went out with the oldest kids. The long procession lead by Selene and Bhola invaded Paraw to the sound of the shehnai, catching the attention of the village.  

The first school was right in Paraw and from there the campaign has gone on for some kilometers around the ashram. The noisy and unusual parade come back to the ashram in the early afternoon. The kids of our school had a lot of fun and they felt so important.  

The day after we chose a boat as a means of transport. After loading the comics and a band of drummers, our crew left for the city.  

We stopped at Gai ghat, Sakka ghat, and Prahalad ghat where we climbed the staircases and walked through the old city narrow alleys until some schools in the city. Then we sailed again, going on along the same side of the river and reaching two villages up north, Saray Mohana and Tathepur. After giving out the comics, we came back to the ashram.  

The third day we used a common means, the ashram car, to get to a country area where more schools were waiting for us. Moving from one to another within few hours, we handed out the comics to the kids and came back to the ashram in late afternoon.

After these three days twenty-six schools got about five thousand copies of Gau Ke Shilpi. Selene, for Plain Ink, and the Shri Aghoreshwar Gurukul, our school, have fully reached the goal. Well done everyone! And for many days we have heard kids in the city, in the outskirts and in the country whispering the deeds of Moni, Lakshmi, Kallu, Ganesh, Anita and Sonu…