Just as I was named Goodwill Ambassador for cleaning Bagmati recently, I became fearful of my voluntary job. What if I fail to achieve some concrete results in the cleaning project of Mother Bagmati River? This is the lifeline of humans, cattle and vegetation in and around the precious and picturesque Kathmandu. Our home is so beautiful yet it has been plagued by irresponsible human behavior of throwing trash, garbage and plastic poison in the holy river. As an achiever, I value success I wish and hope for success in every endeavor I embark upon. I hope it ends with some tangible value for my community and myself. And, I am talking about my hometown, Kathmandu.
Earlier on when I was appointment Goodwill Ambassador to Natural Disaster Fund, post the massive earthquake that my country faced. I remember the immense suffering of the people in Sindhupal and adjacent effected areas. How can I forget the young mother who was blankly staring at the horizon, her mind far away, trying to solve problems that had engulfed so many people, people with destroyed homes and perished hopes of finding their loved ones. The physical tremors of the massive quake may have subsided but what there are still challenging days where family members are lost, where homes, hopes and will are crushed. How to repair homes, rebuild lives and relive the dreams they had lost? While I took my appointment seriously and held many high level meetings, I must admit the results were disappointing. So little was done, so little achieved, so little hopes revived. During Sajha Sawal, it became starkly clear we had failed the earthquake victims. We all share that burden of non-delivery at the most critical time of our recent tragedy. No I’m not alone in this failure – the rulers, bureaucrats, the government in succession have failed. I feel ashamed for this non-delivery. Do ALL others who were accountable and responsible, feel as ashamed? I sincerely do question.
In 2010, post my marriage, Kathmandu became my home and cleaning Bagmati was one of my personal ambition and for that I had formed a core group. In the process of research we met and discovered about Vaidya who tirelessly worked everyday to clean the river. My professional life then took me back to Mumbai. After seven years, the challenge and opportunity is again in front of me. I am really excited to fulfill my dream to create a clean Bagmati for all the valley residents and the habitat.
In the process of working for cleaning for Bagmati I had the opportunity to have two most important meetings. One was with the government body and the other one was with a group of dedicated volunteers. It seems to me, that both the government and the volunteers are quiet earnest about this issue. During the government body meeting, it was made clear that they have thought through a permanent solution, which would indeed take a few years, provided we dedicatedly work towards it. The solution would also require large amounts of funding. The core issues they wish to tackle included:
- The building two dams so that the flow of water is consistent throughout the year and the flushing of the garbage happens.
- Separation of the sewage system from the river.
- Plotting plants near the river to purify the water.
- The encroachment of the river and the land around it, this has to be tackled well.
- Beautification of the river site in which many companies have already committed.
What I learnt in the meeting with the dedicated volunteers was that they have taken this cleaning campaign as a symbol to bring about good values in life. That’s why, without any financial support or any selfish gain they volunteer in the clean Bagmati campaign. Every Saturday, on their holiday, they are up from 7am to 9am, for two hours they go and pick other peoples garbage. No self-interest, no money involved, they in fact even put money from their pocket. They do service without any selfish interest and they are dedicated to it until Bagmati is not clean completely.
Looking at them, and being fully fully aware of my responsibilities and also about my serious limitations about being able to deliver, I do carry hopes that together we will succeed. A goodwill Ambassador has very limited, restrictive power and few resources at disposal. But I know that I can raise my voice, advise for right actions, bring people on board, and show faith and commitment, which of course I shall do. Every day, I will hope and work for better tomorrow with cleaner Bagmati and fresh air. We are all entitled to this dream. This must be delivered. We must not fail again.