With The Inspiration From This Young Man, Villagers Are Digging Ponds & Canals And Raising Funds All By Themselves

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“Whenever I got some time off my hectic corporate job in Bengaluru, I used to head home. My native village, nestled in the foothills of the Kolli Malai in Tamil Nadu, is a predominantly tribal area. Around three years ago, I went for a small trek in the Kolli Hills. Standing atop the summit, I was shocked to see the parched lands all around, which once used to soothe my eyes with a lush green cover. I saw an old woman with trembling legs walking for miles to fill her water pot. That pained me deeply,” narrates Saravanan, the founder of Wake Our Lake, an organisation which has actively revived the water resources in Kolli Hills. Talking to Efforts For Good, he shares how their untiring efforts have rejuvenated the water bodies and relieved the local communities of a drought-like situation. Motivated by their work, farmers of Kolli Malai are now digging ponds and canals, raising funds all by themselves.

One of the ponds built by farmers. They have pooled Rs.6 lakh to build this pond.

The area was drought-ridden

A shocked Saravanan undertook a detailed survey of the entire area, trying to identify the root cause of the crisis. His findings revealed that the groundwater level in the area had depleted drastically, with 800-1000 feet deep borewells gone dry. Most of the natural vegetation in the area has dried up, forests were dying, and the crops were failing. “Palm trees are one of the most water-resilient plants. When I saw the weak and dying palm trees, I understood the gravity of the situation,” he shares.

For a farming community with little means to afford modern methods of irrigation or water conservation, the situation was deplorable. Even drinking water was becoming scarce. Saravanan was a known face among the tribals, thanks to his efforts to improve the infrastructure of the tribal schools in the area. So he considered it his responsibility to figure out a permanent solution.

While stuck in Bengaluru traffic, a determined Saravanan used to interact with experts, water conservation activists and enthusiastic volunteers. “Getting permission from the Forest Department was a major challenge, as they were apprehensive about our efficiency, and so were the villagers,” reveals Saravanan. However, nothing could dampen his spirit.

Lake rejuvenation projects by Wake Our Lake

Soon Saravanan devised a step-by-step plan and launched the Wake Our Lake initiative in 2017, starting with the Thendral Lake project in Narasiman Kadu village. There was not a drop of water in the lake, and its wide catchment area had shrunken in the absence of an inlet channel.

“I have so many memories associated with this lake. I and my friends used to play in the surrounding mango orchard. All of that was gone now, and I resolved to revisit that nostalgia,” he shares.

Inlet channel to the lake

The Wake Our Lake team manually started digging a 1 km long canal from the adjacent hills to the lake. The farmers were doubtful, only ten or twenty of them offered their support to the team. “When the rains came, the lake was filled overnight. The farmers could not believe their eyes,” narrates Saravanan.

Rainwater recharge pit

The most notable project of Wake Our Lake has to be the Panjapatti Lake rejuvenation. Due to the overabundance of a flowering weed, the entire catchment area and natural flora were slowly drying up. “We spread awareness among the villagers, and every weekend they actively participated in manual weeding,” he adds, “But our strenuous efforts failed to be at par with the vigorous growth rate of the plant.” Teaming up with a green power generation company, they deployed a special crawler machine that uproots, crushes and converts the weed into reusable biomass.

Groundwater and forest cover

Guided by ISRO soil scientist Dr P. Velmurugan, the team turned towards groundwater restoration. Beside the withering Punnagai Lake, they constructed a deep rainwater recharge pit, while also building check dams and bunds in the connecting streams, all from locally available resources. The rainwater recharge pit worked beyond their expectations to replenish the groundwater levels. Their success inspired the neighbouring villagers to implement similar projects.

Local villagers cleaning a community pond

“A lot of NSS candidates from local schools and colleges volunteered for this project. Honestly, we never faced any dearth of volunteers and well-wishers who generously donated for our project,” reveals a proud Saravanan.

Wake Our Lake has now collaborated with Indian Institute of Science to plant seed-balls in the barren lands and reinstate the teeming green cover in the region.

Saravanan has documented the entire flowchart of lake rejuvenation to encourage everyone to pay attention to water conservation in their area.

Flowchart of lake rejuvenation

Water crisis is a problem plaguing many parts of India at present. Climate change has caused worsening of the situation beyond control. An enthusiastic endeavour like Wake Our Lake must be applauded. Efforts For Good hopes more youngsters take up the example of Saravanan to work in conserving their lakes and water bodies.

Know more about Wake Our Lake at https://www.facebook.com/wakeourlake/

Also Read: After Victory At Versova, “Beach-Warrior” Afroz Shah To Clean Up Mithi River In Mumbai

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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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