On Friday, July 1, 2016, nearly 200 ConnectFor volunteers, along with the entire CF Team, gathered at Mahim Nature Park near Sion. It was 8 am and morale was high. The volunteers partnered with local school children to plant saplings in the park. Not even a torrential downpour could dampen their spirits. Rakesh, an eleven year old schoolboy, took on the responsibility of sheltering everyone else from the rain using his umbrella. Meanwhile, Gauri, a ten year old, worked through the rain. I told her it would be okay to wait until the rain was over, so as to not soil her skirt. She looked at me with wide eyes and informed me that planting that sapling was more important than her skirt.
And she was right. This is important. It is time to do something about the imbalance in our environment. As our economies grow and our businesses boom, natural forest areas are shrinking in response, giving way to air pollution.
This is especially a problem in India, considering the rapid pace at which we are progressing. Nearly one lakh premature deaths happen annually due to air pollution in India. In 2013, a report by Global Burden of Disease (GBD) said that outdoor air pollution was the 5th largest killer in India. Moreover, approximately 30 million people including children, suffer from Asthma. In an attempt to restore balance to the planet, the Maharashtra State Government has taken on the ambitious challenge of planting 2 crore trees statewide. The goal is to increase forest coverage from 20% to 33%, as reported by Times of India here.
Akansha Chauhan, a 23 year old CA student talks about the importance of planting trees. “It is important to plant trees because different varieties of trees work together to provide shade, bring rains etc. They’re useful to the communities. They also help to bring down the carbon emissions and reduce the effects of global warming.”
She also shared her experience of the event with us, saying “the best part was when I saw so many people gathered for this event on Friday morning, as many of us had office [to go to]. Actually, I was not expecting such a big event with so many people. Students of so many schools came and I was acting as a volunteer for them. It was amazing, a very proud feeling.”
Akansha’s friend, Aishwarya Kadam, a 22 year old student who loves the wilderness, also took part in the event as a volunteer. She was grateful for the chance to be part of this initiative and took pride that it had been undertaken: “The entire event itself was special. But the most appealing part was involving teenagers/school kids. At least they are a step ahead in what we should have done years ago. It’s a great way to make the new generation aware of the critical situation.”
Aishwarya brings up an interesting point about the impact that this event will have on the future generations. In order to ensure a better future, awareness and action must work together.
ConnectFor is happy to have had the opportunity to contribute to this cause, and looks forward to connecting more volunteers to help with environmental issues in the near future.