Ask Amma

Who says money doesn’t grow on trees?

In Field Notes on 26 August 2015 at 7:49 pm

Who says money doesn’t grow on trees… 🙂

A guest post by Peter of Appalagraharam Andhra Pradesh

After school and on Sundays, the village kids come to play with the AID “Toy Library” toys…
Each day there is a different scenario enacted. One day the space may be a market place, with the children, as small groups or individually setting up there stalls with various wares for sale … tea stalls, tiffin stalls, hair studio, scrap merchants, general stalls etc…
Another day it may be the anganwadi centre with a teacher (who always seems to be yielding a big stick… 😦 teaching songs and games to the children whilst somebody else is preparing meals for every one…
One of the favorites is “Birthday parties… one or more children are selected as “Birthday Kids”
All the other children collect leaves and flowers to lavish the the birthday kid and their mudpie cake…

There is one common thing that revolves around all the scenarios…. money.

We have now selected a particular large leaved “weed” (a so called ‘not useful” plant) that grows abundantly about our space as the “currency.” (Otherwise, particularly in the summer months, the kids were stripping all the foliage off all the trees, be it a fruit tree, vegetable or even the rose bushes.) And it is used for many different purposes.  Each day at beginning of play, a few “Weeds” are uprooted and stored at the “Bank” the banker hands out to each of the kids some currency and play begins.

As there as a limited number of toys and an unlimited number of kids, the currency is used to share the toys. If there is a dispute between the kids over a particular item an adjudicator will intervene and decide on an amount to be paid to resolve the situation.

Children making up games with toys from the toy library in Appalagraharam.

Children making up games with toys from the toy library in Appalagraharam.

It’s a privilege to listen to their play and get a real insight into what they have “learnt” or taken interest in.
The other day there was a birthday party being held and they brought in a “Catering party” that charged in Lakhs for their services…
These are village kids from very poor families who have probably only had one or two birthday parties themselves in real life and they would have only consisted of a cake and maybe a few balloons.
Can only imagine it’s the TV … 😦

Now that the monsoon is beginning we’re encouraging them to get into the planting mode and replenish their currencies… 🙂


Ask Amma thanks Peter, Bappa to Swandana and Kinu, for sharing this story with our community. 


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