21 August 2014

Protest in Mumbai against Pesticides Found in Indian Tea © Greenpeace

 

I came to Greenpeace looking for a one month 'legal' internship, learn some new things, have some fun, get my certificate and move on with my life. Little did I know that this internship was going to change me, my life and my decisions. I ended up interning at Public Engagement where I met this wonderful, super passionate person. At every step, she kept motivating me with unending enthusiasm. She made me believe that I was capable of bringing change. And so I did. After my internship was over, I continued volunteering and then we were able to start our very own volunteer group in Pune. We started conducting some amazing activities and we all felt part of this massive environmental movement, started by Greenpeace.

Yet, after all this hard work of starting a new volunteer group and getting ourselves organized, I kept remembering what my mentor had told me- with a little faith, you can keep bringing change. And so I decided to push myself and do something more. This time I wanted to know how my being a student of law was going to help me, if ever I decided to join the social development sector. With a skeptical mind I went to Bangalore, where under the guidance of these two amazing mentors, I realized what a beautiful and brilliant tool law can be, when used correctly and sensitively. I also got the opportunity to share my limited knowledge of law with everyone at the office, and although that was my last day there, never had I felt more connected with the organization and the people there.

Yet again, after the hectic and tiring internship, I remembered what all my mentors had told me- with a little faith, you can keep bringing change. This time I was ready to be a full on activist. So I jumped at this opportunity that I absolutely knew nothing about. I took a bus, left for Mumbai, reached there and BAM!! All the work started with full force and I just kept on going with the flow with an unsure mind. Yet amidst all of this serious work and chaos, I experienced some really emotional moments.

While standing on the Western Express Highway at Bandra, at 4 pm, facing the burning hot sun, holding a placard in my hand and trying really hard to maintain a straight face, after a point boredom and fatigue started to set in. But what kept me going was seeing the ground coordinators there with me. Although I knew I was not supposed to notice them and talk to them but just simply seeing them there and knowing that they are there was enough for me. Seeing them around was all I needed that time- not water, not food, not shade would have worked. I never knew seeing these people there; whom I had met just a few days back was going to be the most motivating moment for me. At that point I knew that I would be facing some possible risks but I also knew that I need not be scared of them, because I knew, these people would do everything to make sure I was safe. Nothing could beat that moment of emotional security I felt on that highway. Although, I had a lot of amazing experiences in these few days, like celebrating my birthday (twice), my first climb, making new friends and all the different things I learnt in this short span of time. All of these experiences are what drive me now and all these learnings are what I would want to take forward in the future activities. The amazing connect we all felt throughout this week and all the laughs we shared has just made the bond amongst all of us really strong.

After all this I realized, the very second I believed myself and decided to bring some change- I was already an activist. If I were to take back, just, one learning experience from all this and tell everyone about it, it would be that- don't be scared to experience new and different things in life, just remember one thing- with a little faith, you can keep bringing change, all you have to do is believe in yourself.

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Devyani Kulkarni is a volunteer with Greenpeace India.