OzGREEN programs connect youth with communities to become leaders of innovative sustainable social change

Day 4- Varanasi

Today was so foggy I couldn't see the other side of the river. 

We ran our first day of Youth Leading the World Facilitator Training. University students from BHU and students from TVN joined in; around 30 people in total. While for me, the language barrier was difficult and exhausting, the passion and energy of the students was more inspiring. 

After our brain storming session, the top concerns were:

- population 

- illegal construction on river banks/commercialisation of Ghats 

- discharge of sewage 

- land degradation 

- lack of awareness and responsibility 

- climate change 

- deforestation/urbanisation 

- insecurity of food/water 

- industrial waste 

- lack of implementation of government policies and action 

- loss of biodiversity 

- wealth gap

- over dependence on fossil fuels 

- loss of cultural heritage 

One of the most crucial parts of the day for me was the Pulse of the Planet. This is one of the only times when the participants listen, rather than joining in. The Pulse of the Planet is a presentation whereby we metaphorically take the pulse of the world- going through large scale global issues of poverty, climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation etc. Here, the participants learn things that they may never have been told before- I sure hadn't before my first Youth Leading the World- such as: 

- 1% of people own 40% of wealth and 50% of people own 1% of wealth 

- we are on track for a 4 degree Celsius temperature rise by the year 2100 

- current sewage treatment plants implemented by the government do not work 

By the end of the presentation everyone- including the facilitators such as Ali, Sue and myself, who have done this for years and heard the presentation countless times- are feeling overwhelmed, small, drained and torn down. It is very important for us to really hear the pulse of the planet, to really listen to its pain, and to then feel that pain ourselves. We than utilise these feelings for positive and passionate action.