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By Sivananda Taduru                                                                                                       Sept and October 2013

I would like to thank  Swami Amritarupanandaji Mataji for providing me a wonderful opportunity to participate in the Clean Himalaya program for a couple of weekends in the months of September and October of 2013. While most of us intellectually  understand the impact of plastic and other wastes on the environment, it is altogether a different experience and understanding to really work on the ground picking up the waste from the street. What I experienced is truly spectacular not just to see a better, cleaner world outside but there is something that happened “within” while I was cleaning the streets of Rishikesh. As I participated week after week the  experience inside was felt more and there was an intense inner journey. I picked up the habit and tried to pick at least some pieces of garbage every day and made it a daily routine while I was in Rishikesh. I wish and hope, with the grace of GOD and the holy masters, that I continue this practice and also try and reduce the amount of garbage that I bring out. I sincerely wish that everyone gets this opportunity to participate in the Clean Himalaya program as a volunteer and experience something within and without…

Sivananda
Ex-student YVFA - 75th Batch (September/October 2013)                                                                      
(Taduru, Sivananda Goud)

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By Paul Watzlaff                                                                                                               April and May 2013

“I feel very lucky to have found and been a part of Clean Himalaya.  Like many people who come to India I was in awe of the beauty but conversely horrified by the pollution and obvious stress on the environment.  Even though I was in Rishikesh for other reasons I enjoyed the public pick ups that are offered twice a week and soon found myself volunteering to help with other Clean Himalaya’s other activties, namely the collecting and recycling of garbage from households, and businesses. Over the next month not only did I learn about the collections but I also made friends with the Clean Himalaya workers and saw many parts of the Indian culture that I would have otherwise never seen. Unexpectedly this all seemed to compliment the purpose that I had come to Rishikesh for, and so made my time in Rishikesh richer and more complete. So regardless of how much time you have or the skills that you can offer anyone can make the Ganges and the Himalayas a cleaner place.”

Paul Watzlaff, Sidney Australia
 

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My experience of volunteering with Clean Himalaya                                                            April 2013

I had an opportunity to serve as a weekend volunteer with Clean Himalaya during my stay at the YVFA, Sivananda Ashram. As a person who has always lived in city with very little experience of participating in cleaning drives (even my mother would never let us do that at home!), the stint of volunteering with Clean Himalaya was a great learning experience as well as an eye opener.

Never before did I think what havoc we are creating to the environment by our unbridled use of plastic. Picking-up all sorts of plastics (candy/chocolate wrappers, plastic carry bags, and numerous other forms of plastic covering used for packaging) from drainages and other places which eventually flow or end-up into river Ganges, gave me a feeling of disgust towards plastic and its prevalent use in our day to day life. Must I think at least twice before buying a candy or a chocolate – how the plastic wrapper is going to be disposed-off? Is it going to be eaten by a cow along with other food waste and make her sick, or is going to form part of the landfill disturbing the surrounding thereof, or is it going to pollute some water body like Ganges? This would help me curb and reduce my carbon foot prints at least.

If we were to analyze the use of plastic in our lives, it would be way more than what we could imagine. I feel helpless as plastic, just like God, is so pervasive in our daily life that perhaps we can’t do without it completely. However, we must be sensitive towards environment and minimize our usage of plastic. And, more importantly, we must properly segregate the house waste before dumping it at its designated place.

Reducing the use of plastic and thus minimizing our carbon foot prints is one of the lessons I have learnt. We must leave a healthier and a cleaner environment for our future generations to live in. Another important lesson is getting over our likes and dislikes. No work is menial or dirty, it is the spirit in which the work is carried out, matters. The experience helped me grow both spiritually and personally. Kudos and sincere thanks to the Clean Himalaya team for their selfless service, commitment to the cause and great enthusiasm!
 
Best regards,
Manoj (YVFA - 73rd Batch)

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Nilla's feedback on volunteering with Clean Himalaya                                            November, 2012
(Nilla is originally from Sweden , but now lives in South India)

After nine years away from Rishikesh I returned a few weeks ago for a short visit. It was really a nice surprise to see that it was cleaner now in many places than before. I heard that it was thanks to Swamini Amritarupananda and Clean Himalaya. I had two opportunities to join their volunteer-cum-worker cleaning groups. One was at the banks of Ganga and the other on the Badrinath Road in Tapovan.

It was very nice. It felt like you were helping Mother Earth to breathe more free. It looks so much more beautiful everywhere after. It was a blessing, and it was almost effortless. You can really feel the big Grace in it. You do this dirty work and you feel happy. Some Christian seminarians, who were part of the Tapovan group,  agreed when I said that if Jesus would have been around now I am sure He would have done this work.
Swamini and the people from Clean Himalaya only work picking garbage  for about one hour each time and that is too short time. Imagine if all, or at least many of the visitors in Rishikesh, would spend an hour helping Clean Himalaya. Then they would be able to cover a bigger area and more of the banks of the river and the nature would be plastic and garbage free. There is a lot to do.
Isn't that our duty? To give a little of our time back to Nature who gives us Everything without asking for anything in return - all the time.

Love from Nilla.

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By Itsuroh Abe                                                                                           September to November 2012

“Clean Himalaya has done so many things and I heard a lot of good reputation about the Clean Himalaya during the survey. Some of my friends told me that they stayed longer or decided to live in Rishikesh because they felt Rishikesh was cleaner and quieter than the other place of India. I believe your work has been contributing this significantly.

 “I hope, someday, all kids in Rishikesh see the workers of Clean Himalaya Society as heroes of India, somebody who is helping India from environmental disaster and pave the way for the better future for kids. I truly respect Swami Susan, Jitendra and all of their workers. I am glad to be one of them during my stay in Rishikesh.”

Itsuroh Abe, Japan

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This is our testimonial for our experience with the Clean Himalaya Program:              May 2012

"Volunteering with the Clean Himalaya Program was very rewarding, and opened our eyes to the need for further efforts in waste management along the Ganga river. It was encouraging to work alongside local community members who have already started to fulfill the goals of this project. This is a very holy place, and we hope that over time it will be restored to its former beauty through more volunteer support and community participation."

Thank you very much for the experience,

Victor, Chetna, and Kara
Student International Health Initiative SIHI
McMaster University
 

 
 
 
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