Volunteers

Seedballing Greener Futures at Kudlu Dodda Lake

The sun was burning hot in the middle of the afternoon around 1:30 pm and the Kudlu Dodda Lake, where the seedballing activity was going to take place, was clear and still. Throughout the path lining the lakeside, we find concrete seating arrangements set up by the Wells Fargo company.

The raw ingredients for the corporate volunteering activity of seedballing – fresh mud pressed into balls, water cans and the seeds – was prepared much before the slated time of the event, 2 pm. The seeds chosen for the seedballing are native to the Karnataka state such as Ala, Arali, Gliciridia, Burega and Hunase. Twenty seven corporate volunteers from Wells Fargo and three school-going student interns joined us soon for the activity. There were some local community helpers also to aid the event in checking the quality of the finished seed balls.

Native seeds

All of them were asked to gather in a shaded space and they were prepped with the details of the composition of the seed balls, how to make them and where the finished seed balls will be dispersed.  The goal for the event was to make 3,000 seed balls in roughly 1.5 hours.

How were the seed balls made?

The mud balls prepared beforehand was a mixture of fresh mud and organic manure (cow dung and bird poop). They are meant to be organically rich in composition so that it aids in critical seed growth when they are finally dispersed into the forests near the foothills of Nandi hills and nearby areas during the monsoon season.

The Wells Fargo volunteers divided themselves into groups containing 3 to 6 members and they enthusiastically got to work. There was a lot of laughter and chatter in the air while they made the seed balls in joint and cheerful effort.

Getting dirty for better future

Every group was provided with one big organic mud ball. Each individual volunteer picked small amounts of mud and placed the native seeds inside it and then rolled it into small round balls. These were placed onto biodegradable plates and they were moved by the school student volunteers to an area under the sun for drying. The shaded space where the seedballing activity was being carried out, overlooked the lake with various birds perched on the tree located in the middle of the lake. Some of the birds one could spot in the lake premise are ducks, herons and migratory birds.

The last lap

The seedballing activity picked up speed towards the end with no sign of exhaustion from the volunteers’ side.

By 3:40 pm, we had prepared around 3,130 seed balls, surpassing the set goal! Thrilled with the results, we decided to wrap it up for the day. The seed balls were then stored in the shaded space safely for dispersal in the coming months.

Before setting out, we asked few of the volunteers to express their thoughts on today’s activity. From their positive feedback and the huge number of seed balls that we managed to produce, the whole event spelled success.

Corporate Volunteering is a force to reckon with. Each of the volunteer is an educated, contributing member of the society and we you put together multiple hands, they collectively become massive change makers. With more similar initiatives, we can pave way for greener futures and ensure a more sustainable existence.

‘PLOG RUN’ – a sport promoting Greener Cities and a Greener Nation!

The cleaner the city the healthier and happier it is! On a Sunday morning 30th of June, Continental in partnership with United Way of Bengaluru organized a Plog Run in 4 locations across India as part of their employee volunteering activity.

In a 3 hours event, about 700+ volunteers from all the four locations participated in the plog run and picked up about 486 gunny bags of recyclable waste. This event was held at Bengaluru, Pune, Gurugram and Modipuram on the same day between 7.30 am and 10 am simultaneously.

Bengaluru city saw 220 people picking up about 250 bags of trash around the Agara Lake Trail, HSR Layout. Despite an early morning shower, 125 Pune volunteers jogged on District Centre Spine Road to pick up 37 bags of waste and Gurgaon bought 200 volunteers picking up 156 bags of recyclable materials thrown around Leisure Valley Park, sector 29. Modipuram edition of the event bought 70 employees to run around the factory premises of Continental and picked up 55 bags of trash.

Getting down and dirty for a good cause!

The event in Bengaluru kick-started with an oath to reduce the use of plastic not only in one’s life. The jingle move saying “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Remove, Rejoice”, was a treat to watch.

“We as responsible corporates, this is the least that we could do in terms of giving back to society. Day in and day out we draw a lot of resources from the community. It is our responsibility to keep it clean. We along with our employees intend to make this responsibility more of fun so that over a period of time we can reduce the unnecessary trash in the society and promote greener, healthier place around us”, says Mr Prashanth Doreswamy, Managing Director, Continental.

Plastic trash, our environment’s arch enemy

“Social change can happen more effectively when we citizens come forward and take the initiative. We need to educate the common public on the rights practices of lifestyle to fight against the odds of the environment. Through such events, we not only create a buzz but also trigger that sense of responsibility in every participant to change that one habit that harms nature – segregation of waste. It is high time. We are cautioned about the crisis that we will soon encounter if Mother Earth is not healed. We are glad to join hands with Continental in this wonderful initiative”, said Mr. Rajesh Krishnan, Executive Director, United Way Bengaluru.

Getting creative!

United Way Bengaluru aims to engage many corporates in such events and see larger participation from the communities towards its green goal.

Wells Fargo Employees Create Miyawaki Forests at Dodda Kudlu Lake

Miyawaki forests, named after the Japanese botanist and plant ecologist Akira Miyawaki, is a method of afforestation with natural vegetation being restored onto degraded land.

One can create these mini forests even in their backyards with many native species intermingling and co-existing in harmony.

As part of United Way Bengaluru’s Wake the Lake campaign, Corporate Volunteering project facilitated the volunteering of Wells Fargo employees on June 7th to clean up Dodda Kudlu Lake and create Miyawaki forest in the lake premise.

A much enthusiastic participant!

Kudlu Lake is located near Silvery county road at Parapana Agrahara. A thriving water body, Dodda Kudlu lake supports a diverse range of important endemic flora and fauna including a variety of birds, butterflies, insects and aquatic life.

Some of the shrubs that were planted on that day were Ekka, Vasaka, Lakki, Vishamadari, Night Queen and more. Meanwhile some of the tree species that were planted along with the shrubs were Arali, Basari, Goni, Kokum, Ranjal, Ankole, Mahagani etc.

Corporate Volunteers posing with their planted saplings

We had 107 volunteers who enthusiastically put in 321 hours and worked towards greening the lake premise. A 1000 square feet Miyawaki forest was created with 1000 saplings being planted and to top it off, 300 metres of land diligently de-weeded.

Full grown Miyawaki Forest

We’re speechless! Because it’s Day of Action @ United Way

The month of June was a momentous one! Rolled into one green package were World Environment Day and United Way Day of Action. It rained saplings and seedballs as corporate volunteers, students, little pre-schoolers, home-makers, senior citizens and young adults alike, lent their hand to plant saplings and make seedballs for dispersal around lakes and open spaces in Bengaluru. 21-23 June 2018, were special days devoted to#UWDayofAction, and these saw lakes and anganwadis across Bengaluru buzzing with activity. As we said, we’re speechless! View the action here! But before that, a look at the numbers:

World Environment Day (over the month)

Day of Action (21 to 23 June 2018)

Volunteers

Saplings

Seed balls

Volunteers

Saplings

Seed balls

1250

1950

9100

2758

1100

102034

Volunteer on World Environment Day

World Environment Day is coming up and it’s raining numbers at United Way Bengaluru! 5th June is observed as World Environment Day across the world. This day is important in order to remember that we will get this world with all its wondrous gifts only once.

The choice is ours!

We can choose to ignore, neglect and desecrate all of these. Or we can preserve and love each tree, each sapling, each creature that walks on it however small, love each drop of water that falls to the earth and revere each grain of soil that yields food for us to eat.

At United Way Bengaluru we have made our choice!

All year round, we treat the earth with reverence and care. We nurture and protect, we respect and preserve, in the knowledge that this is all we have, to give to the future that comes after us.

While we do consider that every day of the year is World Environment Day, June is special, because we can achieve scale without too much effort. This June, we want to plant as many saplings as possible and make and disperse 100000 seed balls from across the 17 lakes that we have helped to rejuvenate.

If you join us, you can be part of a movement that has seeded close to 200000 trees during a single month! The earth has the capacity to absorb and multiply our good efforts – what we seed on this day can grow 10-fold over the years!

Come make a difference! We will begin this movement on 5th June, and will be continuing it through the month – at locations close to you! 

For more details, write to us info@uwbengaluru.org
UWBe Community Connect – 2018

Cargill’s Global Vision is about nourishing potential. Everything we saw today, the Anganawadis, the women empowerment initiatives, scholarships and mobile health clinic actively demonstrate our belief through what we are doing in villages and among the communities where we live. We are thankful to the local community leaders for their support for the program.” – Robert Schubert, Managing Director- CPN India

I am inspired by the work done in this community and would like to thank Cargill for reposing their trust in United Way and for their support towards uplifting local communities. On a personal front, I want take part this initiative and sponsor the education of 10 students.José Pedro Ferrão, International President- United Way Worldwide.

A Community Connect event was held on 18th April 2018 at Bisuvanahalli Govt. Primary School, to coincide with the visit of José Pedro Ferrão, International President- United Way Worldwide and Robert Schubert,  Managing Director- CPN India.  The objective of the event was to celebrate community development and showcase the Integrated Rural Development Initiatives that Cargill has supported over the past two years in the Bashettihalli Grama Panchayat, Doddaballapura Taluk, covering 5 villages, Bisuvanahalli, Kasavanahalli, Medihalli, Yellapura and Bashettihalli.

Integrated development, integrated exposure 

 

COMMUNITY CONNECT 2018 – THE DAY OF ACTION

The guests got a glimpse into every initiative of the project through a well-planned event which took on the look and feel of a village mela or fair. Beginning with a traditional welcome that consisted of aarti, and a joyous procession accompanied by music and dance, the mood for the rest of the day was one of celebration. The guests and UWBe team were welcomed by the local community leaders, students, children and women.

The group first interacted with the Mobile health clinic staff including an MBBS doctor, a pharmacist and a nurse to understand the reach and impact of the medical outreach into the selected villages. They were then given insights into the women empowerment initiative and the women who had been helped for income generation showcased their progress through specially designed stalls.  Cargill has supported 75 women by funding them for petty shops, fancy stores and also built their skills for tailoring and other trades. Some women have also been given livestock support. Another highlight of the day was the visit to the anganwadi centre (Born Learning Centre), where the guests interacted in the workers and witnessed the learning activities. Cargill supports five centres in the area.

Robert, Jose, some community members and volunteers from Cargill then took part in a seed ball making competition which is a greening initiative of UWBe.  It was a one-minute fun game where groups of four made an average of 15 seed balls per group.  After planting saplings, the guests took part in a unique community connect conversation, where 200 community members had gathered to interact with the guests.

Sr. Bindu, one of the NGO partners, explained the importance of early childhood learning and the transformation of BLC centers to the community and extended gratitude to Cargill for the support.

Dr. Nagaraj, MBBS, from the mobile health clinic shared the health condition of the villagers prior to the intervention, cases identified, villages covered, camps held, patients examined, patients treated and the improvement not only in their health condition, but also in the behavioral change.

Asha, a student of 1st year degree, who is part of the Student Support Program, shared how the program helped her to continue her education after completing class 10.

Manjula, a women entrepreneur who has received support from the Cargill – Women Livelihood program shared that she had generated additional income and this has helped make her more confident.  She expressed her whole hearted thanks to Cargill for their Support.

Amali, an NGO partner shared her experience through the journey of transforming lives and thanked Cargill for the support.

Students from the Student Support Program received certificates from Robert and the team took part in graduation day celebration of BLC children who have completed three years in the anganwadi and will be attending regular school. The children are now school-ready and will join schools from the forthcoming academic year.

Cargill team then acknowledged the local community leaders for their support and distributed livestock to the next set of women beneficiaries.  The day ended with a vote of thanks from UWBe and smiles all around!

 About:

  • Mobile health Clinic: Mobile Health Clinic is a mini hospital on wheels equipped with an oxygen cylinder, lifelines, stretcher, emergency equipment and drugs cabinet. It is an innovative way to provide healthcare facilities to people living in interior villages with no access to Primary Health Centers.
  • Women Livelihood: 50% of the Indian population is made up of WOMEN; they have only 25% access to employment in rural areas. Low education levels and vicious cycle of risks in the reproductive health and nutrition make their productivity more challenging. The program aims to build a social and economic environment to increase the women workforce through small enterprise, cow rearing, and goat and sheep rearing in rural India.
  • Student support Program: Due to economic backwardness, it is very hard for most of the families to support the education of their children beyond 10thstd. All these students are first generation learners within their poverty- stricken families; hence they need assistance to progress further. The Student support program aims to provide holistic education support through scholarships for economically backward but meritorious students pursuing their education in PUC 1 and 2 /diploma/Skill-Development course etc.
  • Born Learning Campaign: BLC aims to ensure the school readiness through holistic development among    children under six. The main objectives of the program are to ensure access to an optimal learning environment for the children and provide access to appropriate health, hygiene and nutrition awareness. This is done through the active involvement of the community stake holders, specifically parent groups.

 

Adding strength to Student United Way

Shining examples of youth power

Simran and Sonali are but buds themselves, and yet, they are spreading cheer and love with the maturity of adults. Twins who pack double power into their lives have been volunteering from childhood. These teenagers spend their vacations sharing knowledge and joy. They recently volunteered at a Born Learning Centre and say that they learnt as much and got as much joy as the children they spent time with. United Way Bengaluru values the volunteering efforts of Simran and Sonali and wishes them all the best in life! We will be proud of all their achievements in life. We also salute their parents, particularly Reema their mother who is nurturing and encouraging their talents and standing by them all the way! Hear from them in their own voices…

 Simran Ajwani

Simran Ajwani

My name is Simran Ajwani and I am currently studying in 11th grade. I have a great passion for Math and Chemistry and want to study engineering in the future. Also, I am an athlete and I have participated in many competitions.

I have volunteered since my middle school. I am very motivated to volunteer as I get the opportunity to view the larger world beyond our homes. Whatever effort we put into giving back to our society goes a long way.

I am involved with a project called BLC (Born Learning Centres) with United Way Bengaluru. We work with children aged 3 to 6 years old. I teach the children English alphabets and basic drawing skills.

Every time I visit them, I get a sense of joy and accomplishment. They are full of energy and working with them really touches my heart. This experience has added to my collaborative and time management skills.

I am very thankful to United Way of Bengaluru for this wonderful opportunity. I look forward to working more with these wonderful children.

Sonali Ajwani

Sonali Ajwani

My name is Sonali Ajwani and I am a student studying at TISB in the 11th Grade.  I love Biology and hope to someday pursue a career in medicine. In my free time, I enjoy playing sports like basketball and tennis.

I believe we should try and make a difference in society – no matter how big or small. Volunteering is one way we can give back to our community. I have volunteered since my middle school years and I cherish the memories I have built along the way. Community service has taught me the importance of investing in our community and helping the people who live in it.

I am involved with a project called (BLC) Born Learning Centres with United Way Bengaluru. Working with these children and seeing them learn so well has brought me tremendous joy and it also keeps me mentally stimulated. We have been working on pre-reading English skills and basic colors. I love the children’s enthusiasm and look forward to visiting them and teaching them something new that they enjoy. These experiences have added to my self-confidence, given me a sense of achievement and strengthened my teaching skills.

I am very thankful to United Way of Bengaluru for this wonderful opportunity. Along with my twin sister, I look forward to working on more fun and educational activities with the children at the BLCs.

 

Tryst with Mahadevapura Lake, Bengaluru

Mihir the Birdman

Friends of United Way Bengaluru – Mihir the Birdman!

Mihir is an IT professional, who lives close to Mahadevapura Lake with his small family – wife, parents and a child. It is obvious that he has his heart in the right place because aside of looking into a computer screen, he is also a keen bird-watcher and actively engages in greening and conservation activities.

He explains his interest in bird-watching, “As I was living close to Mahadevapura Lake, I was witness to the rejuvenation efforts which began in early 2016. As I saw the lake desilted, cleaned up and greenery increasing around it, my family and I started visiting the lake. This is when I also noticed that there were a lot of birds visiting the lake.”

About Mahadevapura Lake

  • Nearest Landmark: Bagmane World Technology Centre, Outer Ring Road
  • Acres: 26.58
  • Easily accessible by bus, private vehicles or Metro.

He had bought a DSLR camera around the same time, and it seems the birds literally beckoned to be ‘shot’! It’s almost two years since Mihir’s tryst with the birds of Mahadevapura began and he modestly says he is not a bird expert but rather someone who has been documenting the birds at the lake and enjoying it too.

He says Mahadevapura and Doddanekundi Lake which he visits are great places for bird watching and photography. Lalbagh, Kaikondrahalli, Kalkere and Agara Lakes are on his wish list too. He has covered over 70 species of birds at Mahadevapura Lake over two years. Though most varieties were seen during the winter season of 2017, which is a migratory season, he has spotted birds when there are low levels of water in lakes as well. The reason for this is that some birds prefer shallow water e.g. the Painted Stork, which just walks in shallow water with its beak in the water, looking for food.

The Mahadevapura Lake Gallery of bird life

While equipment is important, he reiterates that best results are achieved through passion and persistence, rather than the equipment. He uses a DSLR Nikon D3200 + 70-300mm lens, and is currently using Nikon D3200 + 150-500mm lens and/or 2x converter.

He lists some tips for aspiring bird watchers:

  • Get as close as possible to the bird for good close-ups. This can mean you just have to be happy just watching them sometimes as they might fly away just as you are about to click, leaving you without a picture.
  • Keep a steady hand as movement can scare/disturb birds and an unsteady hand can result in shaky images
  • Patience is a prerequisite. Sometimes you have to sit hours just waiting for the right moment to click
  • Choose a less-populated and quiet place to observe birdlife
  • Learn to understand bird behaviour. They need to be left alone at times, especially during their breeding season and while they’re feeding and raising their kids
  • Try not to scare them.

UWBe salutes Mihir and his dedication!

Note: All photos are copyrighted to Mihir. They can be used with due credit given to Mihir K V. They may not be used for commercial purposes.

Source for all information: Mihir K V