After birds, deer, turtles, blue skies, mountain peaks and clean environment made an appearance during the lockdown, it left us with a powerful awakening- to save our earth.
In April and May 2020, social media platforms buzzed with pictures of flora, fauna and landscapes. Naturalists across India, reported wildlife sightings in their backyards. Twitter, facebook and instagram videos showed exciting scenes of wild animals walking down urban streets. It seemed that nature started to breathe again as humans adorned masks and retreated inside. Newspaper reports said that the air has become so clean you can see the snow-capped Himalayas from places, hundreds of kilometres away- something not seen in decades. The air quality was the best it had had in five years for that period.
This brief environmental reprieve and its realisations dawning on us with an emergence gave birth to RDT’s new initiative- Mana Bhoomi- Bhoomi Talli Bangaaru Talli (Mother earth is precious). The main philosophy behind Mana Bhoomi is ‘Our earth is our home. Let us live together in harmony with nature’.
“During the lockdown, when I used to sit outside to feed my dogs and cats, I saw birds that I had not seen for last twenty years! I heard them chirp all day long while I was exercising or doing meditation. How marvelous was that!” reminisces Anne Ferrer, Co-founder and Executive Director of Rural Development Trust.
The world certainly became a quieter place in the days of lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak. People started to wonder- is the earth really healing? Are animals reclaiming the planet? Has nature finally triumphed?
While it is true that greenhouse gas emissions went down, but the excessive volumes of carbon dioxide and CFCs that we have pumped into the air for decades will not disappear even in months or years of lockdown. This short respite only served to show us how poorly we have lived our lives so far, and to give a fleeting taste of how it could have been if we had chosen to adapt an alternative, sustainable lifestyle.
“I believe it was a wake-up call for us. I remember thinking to myself that as we went inside our homes, animals came out to their natural world, skies appeared clearer and environment seemed cleaner” continues Anne Ferrer, “Let us hang on to it. Let us all do our part to retain it, to save our earth” she says with a sense of urgency.
Mana Bhoomi aims to build environmental awareness and responsibility among the people and RDT employees, implement innovative and sustainable projects that benefit the earth. Among its goals, it attempts to turn RDT facilities into sustainable green one. “It is an initiative that attempts to change people’s lifestyle to implement a more respectful way of living with the environment”, explains Arancha Alvear, Mana Bhoomi manager.
Mana Bhoomi initiative is based on the idea that our society has potential to be improved and made more sustainable. It is important for our communities to understand that our planet is the reason for our existence. Earth is more than just a resource. It is our home. Just like how we protect the living spaces in our physical home, we need to protect our earth
“Through this initiative, we encourage people to visit their past. In India, people always used steels or earthen cups instead of single use plastics, preferred carrying steel tiffins and ate food from banana leaves and not plastic plates. If we can re-learn from our previous lifestyle, imagine how much we can help our earth!” expresses Arancha Alvear.
Change is not about one person or an organisation doing it all. It is about teaching everyone else. Mana Bhoomi’s vision is to ensure that the people learn about living life in a sustainable way and implement such practices themselves. It is a call for collective action, a call to start taking small actions at our own places, so that it becomes hundreds and millions of actions all over the world.
“Let us all join hands and take care of the world that we will pass on to our children”, concludes Anne Ferrer.
Text: Dyuti Khulbe/RDT