David wake lake story passion fire

David’s coconut trees

The Government Primary School in SolagoduVillage of Hassan District, Karnataka boasts of two coconut trees planted over 30 years ago. The coconuts from the tree are used regularly to make delicious mid-day meals at the school. The young boy, David, who planted the trees has now devoted his entire life to conservation.

“I am happiest when I am communing with nature, and feeling soil between my fingers,” says David Kumar Anthonappa who is serving as General Manager, Community Initiatives at United Way Bengaluru. When he is not juggling figures, meeting deadlines or writing reports, David escapes to a lake and pen poetry or photograph sunsets.

David’s tryst with lakes began when he was just 30. Eechalakatte Kere, the lake in K Byadarahalli Kaval, his native village was languishing for lack of care. It was silted up and lost its water bearing capacity and the bund had weakened.  David’s heart went out to the cattle that were deprived of water for drinking and bathing. He knew he had to do something. He and a few friends got together and resolved to bring Eechalakatte Kere back to life. He recalls, “We had the resolve but no funds to do anything. So my friends and I filed an RTI to find out what funds were available with the panchayat for lake rejuvenation. This helped us and we repaired the bund and desilted the lake. My happiest memoriess are of the days when we were bringing the lake back to life.”

Eechalakatte Kere

After restoring the lake, David felt a new spark come into him. It became clear that a healthy water body meant life for its surroundings. Humans, animals and plant life were equally benefitted by it. His new direction was clearly ahead of him.

David joined United Way Bengaluru and simultaneously took up lake rejuvenation activities at Uttarahalli Lake in Bengaluru. The challenges were huge. The lake had become a dumpyard and a place for anti-social activities. There was apathy from the community towards the lake. “I felt so hopeless sometimes. But my experience with Eechalakatte Kere gave me hope and Manish Michael, our CEO, and I did not give up. Soon, we were proud to see a healthy water body where there was once a stinking mess.”

Uttarahalli Kere was to be the first of a series of lakes revived by United Way Bengaluru under Wake the Lake. The number today adds up to 20, and the future for lakes in Bengaluru is bright. The lake team at United Way Bengaluru is committed to achieving scale and has garnered corporate support, volunteer engagement and is still hungry for more. They are the busy bees of United Way Bengaluru. Wake the Lake has created ripples in the lakes space and the citizens of Bengaluru are passionate about protecting their lakes.

Truly, all it takes is a spark to ignite a fire, albeit one that cools! The lakes of Bengaluru are in safe hands.

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