//A comic book on forest conservation

A comic book on forest conservation

Book launched by social worker Mercy Matthew at India Habitat Centre
Paromita Chakrabarti

New Delhi, February 18: An educational comic book on forest conservation, Spirit of the Forest, was launched at the India Habitat Centre by social worker Mercy Matthew today. Matthew, a Malayalee, has been working with the Gonds of Madhya Pradesh for the last two decades now.

The book— result of UK-based Cambridge-Harda project— has been published in collaboration with Delhi-based Viveka Foundation.

‘‘A lot of research work doesn’t get read or doesn’t reach the common man. We decided on a comic format to make it more readable for the common man,’’ said Rukmini Shekhar, director of Viveka Foundation.

The event also saw Matthew perform a 10-minute solo of a self-composed song Lut Gayi Laaj, followed by a discussion with the research team. the social worker from MP’s Chhindwara district claims that assimilation within the predominantly Gond tribe hasn’t been easy.

‘‘When I first started working in Tinsai village, even women would run away on seeing me. It was because I was so different from them in the way I draped my saree and the way I spoke. So I adopted their ways,’’ says Matthew, who took up the name Daya bai when she started working with the tribals.

Matthew had wanted to be a nun and started as a missionary in Bihar. But she says she soon realised it wasn’t her calling and came to Madhya Pradesh. Since then, she has been making the community aware of their basic rights, taking up cases of human rights violations.