Greenpeace was started by eleven volunteers in 1970-71. You read that right. This global phenomena which is now present in more than forty countries, was first initiated by a group of activists in the living room of someone’s home. They were just a group of volunteers who wanted to take one small journey on one small boat to the island of Amchitka but ended up changing the lives of millions of people around the planet. It should then come as no surprise to anyone that whenever we need our refuel of lots of inspiration, we go back to our roots and our strength- the volunteer community.

Volunteers in Delhi fight for a clean air nation. © Greenpeace India

Our country has some of the most amazing stories of ordinary people trying to do something extra-ordinary- be it volunteers with Mahan Sangharsh Samiti who saved the forest of Mahan from coal-mining or Jadav Payeng in Assam who converted a barren sandbar to a lush 1,360 acre forest in Assam. Stories like these are not far and few. In fact, you can spot similar examples of hope and passion in the cities too. Disasters like the Chennai rains brought out the worst of Climate Change- and the best of Indian people who pitched-in in every possible way. The spontaneous way and manner in which people have reached out to help each other – this spirit of generosity, coming together and caring for each other- has been emotionally overwhelming. People power and volunteering spirit has won hearts and possibly saved hundreds of lives.

Volunteers from Chennai supported Greenpeace India on World Environment Day 2015. ©Abhilash Subramanian/ Greenpeace India

Greenpeace India’s most inspiring moments are centred around volunteers and communities. It is only when real people reach out and touch real lives can we see the magic of campaigning happen. This year, our volunteers, while championing the cause of clean air, water, healthy soil and safe food, have managed to do much more than just that- they have strived to keep our democracy intact and questioned attacks on Greenpeace India and hence all Indian citizens’ right to free speech.

Volunteers in Kahnagarh district, Kerala planted saplings during a solidarity activity. © Irish Panathur/ Greenpeace India

They say nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer- I’d say nothing is more colourful and diverse too. Each volunteer in the Greenpeace India community is a beautiful hue and shade and together they help us form this beautiful rainbow of courage and passion. Everyday we’re amazed by big and small actions. Hence, dear volunteers of the world, today- on International Volunteer Day- we will like to tell you that you’re invaluable and that we celebrate your spirit and passion and salute your contributions everyday. 

Our amazing volunteer group in Delhi on Interntional Forests Day. © Amitesh Purwar/ Greenpeace India.

Sanchita Mahajan works as Public Engagement Campaigners with Greenpeace India.