Once upon a time, like all other cities, Ongole in Andhra Pradesh earned the bad reputation mainly for its pollution. The apathy among citizens and indifference of authorities persisted, until 2015, when a young woman decided to take the onus of ‘doing something’ about the issue.
The deplorable state of her beloved hometown deeply unsettled Tejaswi Podapati, a software engineer by profession. Around 4 years ago, she expressed to her parents her wish to start a solo cleaning drive. One of her main agendas was to render Ongole free of posters and flyers, nailed or pasted haphazardly on walls or tree trunks. Walls, stripped of their original coat of paint and covered with patches of torn posters used to be an eyesore for onlookers.
No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank
“Cleaning Streets With A Broom? Find A Suitable Groom Instead.”
“At first, my family was strongly opposed to my idea. My mother was worried about what society will say if her daughter started cleaning streets. She was rather keen on finding me a suitable groom instead. Thankfully, I received my father’s unwavering support and I started the work,” shares Tejaswi.
Fast forward to present, Tejaswi is the founder of Bhoomi Foundation – a non-profit organisation dedicated to cleaning and beautifying the cities of Ongole and Hyderabad, one spot fix weekend at a time. As a social crusader who contributes 70% of her salary towards her selfless endeavours, Tejaswi’s journey has been a series of hurdles, each one harder than the other. Today, Efforts For Good does not present the story of her success, but the story of her struggles; the story of the sweat and tears behind the impact she has made.
Travelling 300 Km Every Weekend For Cleaning Ongole
After Tejaswi secured a job in Hyderabad, she used to travel back 300 km every weekend to Ongole, to carry on with her cleaning drives. “I thought I was doing a good job, performing my duties as a conscious citizen. I hoped everything would be perfect with Bhoomi. But, corruption at every level of governance proved to be a huge hindrance for us,” shares Tejaswi.