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

Day 7- Varanasi

There are certain key figures at Sankat Mochan Foundation, I have come to understand. While I haven't been here nearly long enough to pass judgements, the strong, dedicated and passionate work ethic of these men have become obvious to me. Up all night working, barely home or with family, a constant level of stress- who would do this to themselves? 

Environmental activists apparently- what a crazy lot. 


Because the Ganga must be free of sewage.

Three of these key figures joined us yesterday afternoon (Gopal Ji, RK Ji, and Pandey Ji)- the third day of Facilitator Training.  To begin, outside looking over a million dollar view of the Ganga, we played a game- A Big Wind Blows. Basically, the game consisted of one person standing in the middle of the rest of the group (whom are circled around him/her on chairs). The person in the middle will state "a big wind blows for" and then something sustainable they do: eg, a big wind blows for those who have solar panels on their roof. If this statement is true for you, you must get up and run towards a new chair. Inevitably, one person misses out on a chair and the process starts again. 

The first round went and people ran and jumped and dived everywhere attempting to find a seat, it was Gopal Ji who was left in the middle. In my week of staying at Tulsi Ghat, I had not yet seen such a large and playful smile come from Gopal Ji. After a few moments of trial and error and students explaining the game in Hindi to Gopal Ji, laughing along with him, the next round went and this time it was RK Ji left in the middle of the circle, students giggling at him, an even larger smile again, an special brightness in his eyes.

Whilst trying to run and find a safe seat myself, I observed the loose playfulness in their movements. Their smiles were almost larger than the students. How heartwarming such childish fun could be; how wonderfully reassuring to see that even in the midst of an environmental/humanitarian crisis, these dedicated men could release their stress, let go of such overwhelming responsibility and, even if just for a moment, enjoy a delightful game of Big Wind Blows. 

A little while on, we got the two students to speak to their peers about what they had witnessed yesterday, the surprise and pain they had felt. How excellent it was to see the participants listening intently and reacting with such understanding when it was their own friends informing them. 

For me, this reinforced the significance of what Youth Leading the World believes- that young people have substantial power when it comes to spreading awareness. Simply because we are the future. Who better to talk about the future of Ganga than those who will be there to live along side it's future?