26 September, 2023

Summer Short-term Camp with SCI India

Written by SCI India, West Bengal Group

The Summer Short Term Camp was held from 20 to 28 August 2023. Three participants reached the campsite one day before from Mankundu. The local friends arranged the food and accommodation at Bhagot Singh club and since there were no international volunteers or volunteers from out of state, the local unit Members and four members from the Hooghly district joined the camp. Ten volunteers regularly attended the camp whereas 10 other local volunteers of the local unit (Ridighi unit) joined as and when they were available.

The 200 Sonajhuri saplings were planted in Baribhangaabad village, Block-Mathurapur II, 24 Paraganas (South), West Bengal, India. The place is 75 km away from Kolkata, the people are mainly dependent upon agriculture, partly on pisciculture as well but a considerable number of people migrate to the nearby district looking for jobs. Due to the massive improvement of transport in the last few years, poverty has considerably reduced but the environmental hazards have proportionately increased.

Because of a huge change in the food packaging process, plastic packing materials are reaching every home daily but there are no garbage collection systems (like in cities) so the plastic papers and packets are flying on the roads and finally reaching agricultural land or ponds or the local river and ultimately going to Bay of Bengal.

People collecting plastic trash

Since the volunteers were known to each other and the area was known, we were able to start the work very early in the morning of 20 August. Three volunteers brought two hundred Sonajhuri plants at 7:00 a.m. then all the participants had their breakfast. They were planting the saplings from eight in the morning until noon and it took about 3 days to plant them all.

Then for two days, the volunteers conducted a survey regarding awareness of the use of plastic and its effect on the environment. They surveyed 50 families. In fact, at the time of the survey, lots of knowledge could be offered to the villagers and it was a very useful activity.

On the sixth day, we collected plastic waste from ninety families, amounting to twelve sacks. We organized an online slogan competition on plastic pollution and its usage. Twenty slogans were received from 20 people. The following 3 people were awarded first, second and third positions. Each of them was awarded with a certificate and a memento.

The 1st. position was won by Mr. Somnath Sardar, a social worker from Domkal, Raidighi.

He wrote:

Let’s all of us swear,

To reduce using plastic,

To save the earth,

We must not bring plastic in home.

Two people holding a paper of the prize and smiling

The 2nd. Position was won by Dr. Tarun Kumar Das, Associate Professor, Future Institute of Engineering and Management, Sonarpur. He wrote:

If we want to improve our environment

Let’s join hands,

Look, there are ominous sign flashes

No time to waste to protect our earth”.

The 3rd position was won by Mr. Narayan Baidya, a teacher at Baribhanga Bama Charan Vidyapith. He wrote:

There should be no more plastic pollution,

let the environment be healthy

and Let the people live longer”.

He didn’t turn up to receive the prize.

On the 7th. day we organized a village community meeting where mostly women gathered. We explained to the community that we had collected the plastic waste from their houses for the last year but from now onward we would not come to collect the plastic anymore but they would have to put their monthly plastic waste to a particular location selected by Panchayet (the local government).

People gathering for a forum regarding plastic waste.

The community members agreed and it was settled that until and unless the Panchayet fix up a place for depositing the plastic waste, it would be kept at Bhagat Singh Club ground to save nature from plastic pollution. We partly achieved our mission of introducing a long-term solution to this problem and now SCI members will check to ensure that the families are following up on their commitment.

On the morning of the eighth day we organized a drawing competition with the village children children. The children were divided into 3 categories and from each category, three children were awarded prizes.

After the drawing competition, we planted saplings of fifty high-quality Maringa trees for fifty families in the Konkondighi village, as it is highly nutritious, de-oxidant, and has high medicinal value. We explained the usefulness of the tree to the villagers and they can replicate it by themselves.

The online slogan competition brought us a few friends, who we hope will participate in promoting SCI’s aims and objectives in the future. So the eight-day summer camp was a lot of fun, and was highly useful for the local community, as it also motivated a volunteer to set up a new SCI unit in Raidighi.

This article was written by Tapas Kumar Sur of SCI India, West Bengal Group.

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