Heidi is a little orphan girl, who at the age of five is taken to live with her Grandfather in the Swiss mountains. She derives pure joy and happiness living amongst nature and with her gentle and kind heart, not only does she bring meaning into her Grandfather’s life, she also befriends many that crosses her path.
When she turns eight, she is taken as a companion to a girl, Clara from a well off family living in a faraway town, Frankfurt. Clara is a sweet but weak girl confined to a wheel chair and takes a liking to Heidi from their first encounter. Heidi is treated well in her new place and brings out the goodness in others and much life around her, but she could never get used to being confined within closed spaces as she feels “like a wild bird in a cage seeking a way through the bars to freedom”. She ultimately returns to the mountains and along with her, the others also get healed holistically through their interaction with life in the mountains and nature.
Heidi is a character I can relate to myself. Quite often, the ‘Highland or mountains in me beckons’, especially when I get stifled by the materialistic world and I seek solace in Nature. I want our children to see wealth through the eyes of Heidi, to find joy like Heidi does, to appreciate and be grateful for the natural wealth that we possess and not to get carried away by the materialistic world that is looming before us.
The book depicts precious values of selflessness, sharing, caring, trust, respect, love, help, responsibility, forgiveness, friendship, discipline, appreciation, gratefulness and many more. The book exemplifies the times when ‘wants were few’ and pleasure could be derived from simple things like feeding animals, sharing and savouring food, watching the sunset, respecting and spending time with the elderly, being able to read and educate oneself as well as the others and reaching out for each other.
I personally feel that children today live too much in a ‘make believe’ world, a world of fantasy, a world of electronic gadgets, a world of endless wants. I look back to the days when children played with leaves, stones, sticks, sand,….. when lives were carefree yet not dangerous, when children accompanied parents to the work fields and played their little roles and derived satisfaction and a sense of achievement for their contribution.
During a tour in 2013 to Eastern Bhutan with the SELP 3 team organised by RIGSS, we met a couple from Switzerland who told us that Bhutan is a beautiful country and that we should count our blessings and protect and preserve what we have for what’s lost is difficult to retrieve.