Ali AbbasAfter completing graduation, when most of my friends were looking at higher studies, I took a small breather to put more thought into my future plans. My immediate options were to join the 25 year old family business or to pursue an MBA and work in a corporate. But somehow I was not satisfied with this, so I decided to do some voluntary social work and started looking for a job as a teacher.

While looking for this job I came across Greenpeace. I still remember the ad which read, 'Greenpeace International NGO, looking for employees and volunteers'. The name Greenpeace excited me, so the very next day I decided to visit the office to know what the job was all about. My interview was held and by the end of the day I got confirmation from the manager that I was selected as a part-time Direct Dialogue Recruiter with a salary of 2,270. This is how I started my journey with Greenpeace.

During the initial days it was tough to stand on the streets and talk to people about the environment. But it helped that I was working with an excited and motivated team of youngsters who displayed courage and challenged anyone who did not believe in the need to protect the environment. We used to wear a green jacket and work on the streets and it became routine for people to think we were salesmen or parking attendants. In fact, one day near a posh mall in Hyderabad, a lady offered me 10 rupees from her car for the parking token! This irritated me a lot.

For one year I did not inform my family as to what I am actually doing for Greenpeace. During the direct dialogues I came across people who appreciated my work and who thanked me for taking a stand and talking about the environment. Most people are busy in their daily routine and spare time only for a warm hand shake, a smile of encouragement and words of appreciation. But these gestures kept me going strong.

In 2009 I got an opportunity to participate in the first ever Basic Action Training (BAT). Since then I have been participating in creative activism and have also been directly involved in NVDA ( Non Violent Direct Action). Actions are the most exciting and adventurous part of Greenpeace. From climbing minister's office buildings in Delhi, to uprooting GM Laguna (Brinjal) in Philippines, shaking hands with then environmental minister Jairam Ramesh in brinjal costumes, flying in the hot air balloon in the forests of Mahan with Abhay Deol. I have been detained by the police thrice and roughed up by security guards twice. A case is also going on in Philippines.

charminar

At the latest protest in Hyderabad, the Charminar police station-in-charge called me a local hero who inspired other youngsters to drop the banner at Charminar. Hyderabad is also my hometown. I feel fortunate because not many get the platform to directly show concern towards what they care about and directly protest and be a part of the change process. I am working with Greenpeace because we share a common dream of a green and peaceful world, which is possible if we all raise our voice.

Two things that I have learnt over the years are hope and peace. Hope keeps us alive and helps us believe that despite all the destruction happening in the mad rush of development, a better world is possible. The best example of practising peace from my own experience was demonstrated by the police personal whenever we were detained. They showed us all the respect for our reasons behind protesting and even admitted their support for our cause. Change is possible peacefully.

It was my Greenpeace exposure that encouraged me to pursue an MSW and excel in campaigning for a cause. On October 10, 2012, I completed five years with Greenpeace India. I wish to go far ahead, by learning, sharing and making more efforts, continuously, to protect our planet every day.