Youth share the volunteer spirit in Mumbai
03 February 2010

Mumbai, India: “Look, how amazing!” said Bala, as he held up a paper bag he had just made out of newspapers. “I plan to use this to carry my karate uniform instead of the plastic bags I’ve been carrying so far”.

 The lanky 17-year-old, a black belt in karate, was laughing away as he sat with his bunch of young friends making paper bags in preparation for the upcoming International Volunteer Day.

Bala is part of a group of around 40 young boys and girls who have been engaged in understanding issues related to the environment and sustainable development. Culminating in a campaign on 'Volunteering for Our Planet' on 5 December 2009, the young people went through the several milestones.

Mona Patrao and her husband Peter built their refuge 38 years back with mud, stone and a lot of love. Today, the place is called Redstone Organic Farm and every inch within the six acres boasts of “sustainable lifestyles” as Mona modestly puts it.

Patches of green forest-like spaces built organically share space with a windmill used to harness water and electricity, solar panels to generate energy and gobar gas tanks used to supply gas for daily cooking. The dung (gobar) comes from Mona’s cow that delivered a calf a month back and from contributions of dung from local villagers.

The milk from the cow is used to make delicious milk shakes and savouries for young people who come to 'Mona Aunty’s' place to learn about the bounties of nature and fall in love with the environment.

About 40 youth (students from Ismail Yusuf College and young boys and girls from the community in Jogeshwari East where SAHER works) spent two days at Mona’s place near Panchgani hill station learning about organic farming, sustainable lifestyles and strawberry cultivation.

They ended their trip with a treasure hunt where they had to follow clues leading to items of sustainable living strewn around the place. Before leaving Panchgani, Mona and Peter guided the group to a natural rock pool to splash in the water and put their good sense to test as the group refrained from using plastic, buying packaged food and taking care not to disturb the wilderness around.

Back at the SHARE Community Centre in Mumbai, 21-year-old Sana from Jogeshwari East led the community youth group to make paper bags to be distributed to local vendors and college students on 5 December

Shahid, a 23-year-old from the community in Jogeshwari East and 19-year-old Fehmida from Ismail Yusuf College led two groups to research theenvironmental hazards of using plastic and indiscriminate use of energy. The information gathered was used to script two separate plays to be performed in various places.

Parwaaz, a youth programme run by SHARE volunteers led by 20-year-old Parveen mobilized 38 young volunteers to participate in a poster-making competition around the theme 'Saving Our Earth'. The posters would be displayed during a rally to be held in the college on 5 December 2009.

Garima and Haamid (Tata Institute of Social Sciences interns with SHARE) motivated National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers in Tolani College, Andheri, to participate in a similar poster scheme. They also encouraged volunteers to put up street plays to create awareness about sustainable lifestyles.

About 50 volunteers participated in a rally within the huge campus of Ismail Yusuf College. They walked with banners and posters depicting the need to care for the environment and ways of making a start at an individual level.

The rally ended in front of the main college building where a group of 10 Parwaaz volunteers performed a street play on the hazards of pollution and indiscriminate use of energy and electricity.

Another 48 NSS volunteers participated in making posters in Tolani College and later explained their depictions to a gathering of college students. Volunteers performed two street plays to spread awareness about saving the environment from indiscriminate felling of trees and adding to air pollution everyday through toxic emissions.

Young people from the Jogeshwari East Community performed a street play in Tolani College (this was the first time for all of them!) to spread awareness about the need to use less plastic and think about alternatives such as paper and other environment friendly products

And 20 youth from the Jogeshwari East Community went about the markets in their area performing a street play on the need to use less plastic and think about alternatives such as paper and other environment friendly products. They also distributed paper bags made by them to local vendors to lead them to think about alternatives.

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