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School students clean up river in Indian capital
08 December 2005, 17:45
by Shantum Seth

I have just returned from a wonderful Shramdaan (Volunteer effort) organized on  the banks of the Yamuna where we had a symbolic cleanup of the river. Kinuko Mitani, from the UNV country office team, had sent out an invitation about this on Friday.  About a thousand young people, including a lot of 'differently abled', participated from about 15 schools. A lot of enthusiasm, discussions and of course action. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi got fully involved too.

The purpose of this action amongst many others in our Volunteer Promotion Unit campaign is to build a movement in support of a clean Yamuna and to put Yamuna onto the 'Mind map' of Delhi and its citizens. For those of you who could not come, you can catch a glimpse of the volunteer action on India TV, CNBC, and some print media including the Times of India.

After the shramdaan, the young people sat by the river and enjoyed a concert by Valentine Shipley of Indian Ocean fame (the stage was on two boats). The music included some older numbers like 'We shall overcome' and 'Blowing in the Wind' which aging 'peaceniks' like me thoroughly enjoyed.

Also, for the last four years we have been encouraging and supporting a festival of street plays on volunteering and social issues. It was again put together this year by a former National UNV of the Volunteer Promotion unit, who is now working for Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti.

Shantum Seth
Advisor, Volunteer Promotion Unit