A forest in your own backyard isn’t something you would think was possible, until you meet Mr. Shubhendu Sharma. An Industrial Engineer by profession, Shubhendu can not only turn that into a reality, but has made it his life passion.
It began when Sharma volunteered to assist naturalist, Akira Miyawaki, to cultivate a forest at the Toyota plant where he worked. Miyawaki’s technique managed to regenerate forests from Thailand to the Amazon, and Sharma was incensed to replicate the model in India, where he felt the need was dire.
He began to experiment with the model, and to customize it to use in Indian soil, and over time he soon came up with an Indian version after some modifications using ‘soil amenders’. As the saying goes that ‘Charity begins at home’, Sharma tried the first application of the Indian version in his own backyard in Uttarakhand, where in a year’s time Subhendu managed to nurture a lush green forest. As he watched the beauty of nature, that he had managed to create, Sharma resolved to share it with the world. The lush greenery in his backyard, gave him all the confidence he needed, and decided to launch it as a full-time initiative. Sharma quit his job and spent a year on researching the feasibility of the project. After endless hours of work infused with enthusiasm, Sharma started Afforestt as an attempt to give back, and for way for the whole community to be able to do the same.
“I realized it can’t be done as a ‘do gooder” activity. If I wanted it to succeed, I had to think it through and come up with a business plan, and a bunch of my friends helped me to set it up,” Thankful for the friends and family who had cheerfully volunteered to get the project going. Afforest is an end-to-end service provider solely to create natural, wild, maintenance-free, native forests in 2011.
He was very clear about how Afforestt would be a Non-profit organization that was much more than just a business for him. “The idea is to bring back the native forests. They are not only self-sustainable after a couple of years.”
The way to contribute would be to volunteer to start with your backyard, and to involve your community in doing the same and prove that charity does begin at home.
Babbar Ali – World’s Youngest Headmaster at the Age of 16
This young boy has fought against all odds with a deep desire in his heart to educate the children in his neighborhood. Babbar Ali is a 12th Standdard student of “Cossimbaazaar Raj Govinda Sundary Vidyapeeth”, Murshidabad, West Bengal. His routine is like that of any other normal child until he is done attending school in the late afternoon. It is what he does after that is laurel-worthy. Babbar Ali is the Headmaster of an afternoon school called – “Anand Shiksha Niketan”, where presently 800 students study. This incredible story began 9 years ago, with just 8 students. The school began with humble beginnings, and is now run in a temporary concrete structure without any major infrastructure. At his Gurukula, Babbar provides free education to all the students who come from close by and far off places. Babbar Ali understands the earnestness and eagerness of one and all to study and get even the most basic of education. Being a student himself, he can truly relate to the same thirst for knowledge that he sees in all his students.
When we blame the system, our family circumstances, financial instabilities and many other things to take action, we just remain static.
Babbar Ali is doing all this with just 3 things – “Sheer Dedication, Passion and Will”.
You can contribute your part to help Babbar support his vision of a 100% literate India. If you are interested, please let us know and together we can make India a 100% literate country.
FOOD BANK- The Chennai Way
How difficult is it to feed the homeless, you may ask? If you ask the members of the Facebook group called “Food Bank Chennai’, it is very easy. Just cook a little extra, pack it, and upload the request on the FB page. Soon a knock at your door will announce the arrival of the delivery person to pick up the food and deliver it to the homeless people in your locality. Doing this yourself will earn you the additional pleasure of seeing the unbridled happiness in the eyes of the people you feed.
Initiated by Sneha Mohandoss, a 23-year old visual communication student. The group is a platform to connect people who want to help the homeless with home-cooked food.
“My idea is that everyone should get a hence to take up the initiative in their own areas.”
The first step to involve yourself in the food drive, is to post on the group with the details of your participation and mentioning the locality you belong to. If there is already an existing member of the drive in your area, the page connects you with the member so you may continue in conjunction with one another.
Sneha, was inspired by a very similar drive in Tamil Nadu conducted by Aarati Madhusudan, called “Robin Hood Army” which takes excess food from hotels and restaurants and gives it to the homeless. The stark reality of seeing the conditions of the homeless people pushed Sneha into action. Like Aarati, Sneha began her initiative through Facebook, and found very many like-minded people and willing volunteers.
Aarti and Sneha have both understood the value of giving back the society, and how much value it holds to her personally. Initiatives like these are currently having a ripple effect all over the country. There are countless other such drives hosted by individuals, that realize that to see a change, you need to be the change.
Rajesh Kumar, is an inspiration not only to the children he teaches, but should be to all who read this. A shopkeeper by profession, Kumar spends every morning teaching around 80 children from low income families in Delhi. The 43- year old invests in the cause of educating the bright young sparks, who do not have access. The start of this saga began when Kumar walked past the construction site of the Delhi Transit Station. The happy children playing around nearby initially delighted Kumar, until a thought struck him. ‘Why aren’t these children in school?’ Upon questioning the parents that worked at the site, they answered that there were no schools in the vicinity, nor any that wanted to take care of the children.
As the pillars of the Yamuna Bank metro station reverberate with the passing metro overhead, Rajesh Kumar, settles down to teach the gathered children. The thunderous sounds of the metro are not even felt by the children. There are no chairs, no tables the children sit on rolls of polystyrene foam placed on the ground.
As the Delhi Metro from the Yamuna Bank station rumbles on every day, something extraordinary takes place under its tracks. Children from the neighbouring slum gather here to let their imagination take over. And helping their dreams take shape is a West Delhi shopkeeper Rajesh Kumar.
Rajesh said, “I would regularly see children idly playing in the dirt in the area. I asked their parents why weren’t they sending them to school. I got no answer, so I decided to start teaching these children from then. We didn’t have much, so with whatever I could get I started teaching them here.”
Consequently, his open-air class room was born – between pillars and beneath the tracks of the Delhi transit system, known as the Metro.
Every few minutes a train passes above, the children unperturbed by its sounds. There are no chairs or tables and the children sit on rolls of polystyrene foam placed on the rubble.
Three rectangular patches of wall are painted black and used as a blackboard. Anonymous donors have contributed cardigans, books, shoes and stationery for the children, as their parents cannot afford them.
One unnamed individual sends a bag full of biscuits and fruit juice for the pupils every day – another incentive for the children to turn up for their studies