16-year old woodcutter's son set green example

Representative image

At an age, when many of his ilks are busy browsing social networking sites, 16-year old Mustafa is trying to do his bit to save trees and protect the environment.

Son of a woodcutter, whose main source of income was derived from selling wood collected from pruning the trees, Mustafa, a resident of Pooth Khas village in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut district, about 450 kilometres from here, persuaded his father to look for some other environment-friendly way to earn money.

“As Mustafa felt strongly about preserving the environment, he pressed upon his father (Mursaleen) to give up wood-selling...after having left a stable source of income, he has now become a grocery vendor.....challenging and painful in the summer heat, he sells pulses and rice, door-to-door, on a cycle-cart in the surrounding villages,'' says Mustafa's mother Gul Baara. 

The young boy, who studies in the tenth standard, also served as the secretary of National Bal Panchayat of Children’s Parliament supported by Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation (KSCF).

It was not easy for Mustafa to persuade his father to give up his traditional profession. ''It was challenging to convince him as the family depended on his income,'' said Sher Khan, a KSCF activist.

“Earlier, my father and I went door-to-door selling stray wood pieces that we had collected from orchards and fields...I wanted to study, but the economic situation of my family did not allow me to attend school regularly,” Mustafa told DH over phone.

He, however, did not lose heart and managed to persuade his father to let him attend school. ''Although I still help my father in his work but I get sufficient time to study,'' he added.

India has lost around 14,000 square kilometres of forest land in more than 30 years to industrial projects, sparking an outcry from activists, as the nation struggles to balance economic development and environment. 

Mustafa said that only a collective effort could protect the environment. ''All of us can contribute in this effort,'' he remarked.

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