With environmental consciousness on the up, we are beginning to witness more and more people step up to the challenge of protecting our planet, and believe us, these actions couldn’t come at a better time! Just a couple of years ago, one brave man set up his very own mission to rid Versova Beach in Mumbai, India, from all the garbage that surrounded it.
Mumbai’s Afroz Shah always felt passionate about making his home city a more eco-friendly place. It wasn’t until the year 2015 that he stepped up to the plate, and decided to do something about it – cue the Versova Beach Cleanup project! Popular Everything is here to guide you through the ways this one man depolluted the site from its tons of rubbish, and actually welcomed a couple of four-legged creatures along the way!
How the Big Movement Came Into Being
On a random day in 2015, the young lawyer and environmental activist Afroz Shah decided to do his bit for the planet, by tidying up one of his favorite places, Versova Beach. With the help of his neighbor, 84-year-old Harbansh Mother, the pair headed to the site as quick as a flash. Carrying just a couple of bags and a trusty pair of gloves, these two got straight down to work!
The term “I got by with a little help from my friends” couldn’t be more fitting for this particular situation. As Afroz and Harbansh cleaned away, word quickly got out about the pair’s tremendous mission. In fact, it wasn’t long before fellow environmental enthusiasts offered to lend the cleaners a few helping hands!
Before long, Afroz was gathering friends, volunteers, neighbors, and fisherman to get involved in the de-pollution movement. Clearly, his time spent knocking on doors and warning people about the dangers of pollution had paid off! It was time to make Versova Beach a beautiful place again, and so many people were willing to make their mark in the project.
Getting the Group Project Organized
This is where things started to get real for Mr. Shah. Every Sunday, the dedicated team of volunteers rallied together for their afternoon clean-up sessions, or “dates with the ocean” as Afroz coined them. This may sound like a fairly pleasant pursuit, but believe us, it was a laborious task that required a ton of stamina and hard effort.
In fact, the weekly clean-up sessions at Mumbai’s Versova Beach involved “laboring shin-deep in rotting garbage under the scorching sun.” Suddenly, our respect levels for this hardworking team of cleaners have risen way, way up!
Let’s fast forward a little. After a whopping 119 weeks of solid work, Afroz’s dream had turned into a stunning reality! Versova Beach was a totally new space, completely free of it’s polluting garbage and over 12,000 tons of plastic waste lighter. What’s even more exciting, is that a particular species of reptile paid the beach a visit again.
For the first time in 20 years, sea turtles began walking along the fresh, clean sand of Mumbai’s 3-kilometer stretch of beach. According to reports, approximately 80 olive ridley sea turtles hatched from nests and hobbled towards the newly unpolluted sea. We bet this was quite the emotional sighting for Mr. Shah! What a special way to see all your hard work pay off.
Carrying on With the Fight
We’re calling it: Afroz Shah is a living legend. To prove this point, the lawyer’s hard work was recognized by the United Nations, granting Afroz the prestigious title in 2016 as “Champion of the Earth.” As proud as the Mumbai local must feel about the impact he made to so many resident’s lives, his mission isn’t over just yet. In fact, we’re not sure it ever will be!
In order to stop the beach from reverting back to its old, pollution-filled ways, Afroz has vowed to never stop the cleaning, it’s all about keeping the consistency! In many ways, Mr. Shah can be seen as a role model; thousands of young Indians with an interest in the environment can help towards the ongoing battle to protect their beaches. We couldn’t be prouder!