Summer brings in knowledge

Kids have been enjoying the summer holidays and now it is almost time to get back to school. For some children this week was celebration time. They were eagerly waiting to receive their certificates. It has been eleven years since Muscat Municipality’s Bait al Baranda, located in Muttrah, has been conducting the summer program for children. This year the theme has been ‘Be Green 2’. It is the second year the topic of recycling has been chosen as theme. However, this year, Bait Al Baranda’s interiors sported more greenery including young frankincense trees, a collection of cactus, desert roses and many other species.

This presentation highlighted the role of Oman Botanical Garden’s role in the summer programme. “We had artists to train children in the creativity area and experts from the Oman Botanical Garden introduce the children to the world of plants. It is amazing to know that we have over 70 indigenous plants in Oman. In the future maybe we will have botanists from this group of children who have attended the summer program,” said Malik al Hinai, Director of Bait Al Baranda.
Children were eager to see their work on the walls and on the floor. These portions of the building were transformed into a kaleidoscope of children’s works assembled together like a puzzle to form a tree.
“We trained them in art but the creative expression is totally theirs. We know plants will be in the shades of green but to brighten up the paintings we decided to go for colourful pots. The colours and shapes of the pots were their choice. We also wanted them to have another perspective and that is looking at the plants from the top. But look at the wonderful contrasts they have come up for the floor or the ground,” pointed out Hinna Kothari, an accomplished artist based in Muscat.
The recycling projects are equally attractive. Vehicle tires have been painted to grow plants in or hold pots of plants. They have been thought of as furniture too – “Just throw in a cushion in the middle and you have a comfortable seat.”

Bait al Baranda also boasts of Khalfan and Muzna — pot creations of the children which were strapped on with faces with plants for hair. They also come up with the wishing branch where children hang handwritten notes.
“These are the wishes of young children who attended the summer camp. These are the wishes they like to see for Muscat City. It is great way to hear from them,” said Malik.
The exhibition is open for two weeks and once the school reopens there are going to be plenty of school trips from different wilayats of Oman and the Wish Branch is probably going to be full soon.
In addition to their certificates there was something else that was eagerly being picked up. This was the butterfly and bug collection – something that was taught by the experts from the Oman Botanical Garden. Their projects are now for keeps.
The children were not just introduced to nature. They were even trained to grow seedlings and how to care for sick plants. And there was one corner the younger kids did not want to leave – they were enchanted with the microscope and what they could see through the slides especially in the sand – tiny creatures. After all understanding soil is equally important as learning to grow plants.

Lakshmi Kothaneth