Well-known environmental journalist and activist, Nithyanand Jayaraman spurred Pooja Kumar, a final-year BA journalism student of MOP Vaishnav College of Women, to jump on the social service bandwagon. “You could also say that he inspired me to take up this course. His writings and research work amazes me,” begins the 20-year-old.
One of the founding members of Reclaim Our Beaches (ROB), a meeting with her idol changed Pooja’s life. “After having organised a concert, the proceeds of which went for climate change and its repercussions, I had an opportunity to meet Jayaraman. He was the one who steered me and my friends into taking up service on a serious note,” she gushes.
ROB which is a democratic forum, has equal responsibilities for everyone, she claims. “Whether you are a co-founder or a member, everyone is involved in the discussions and decisions are taken collectively,” she explains.
Besides helping to clear the trash from the beaches in Chennai, Pooja helps with the props required for ROB’s campaigns and activities. “I arrange for placards, flags, handouts, etc. I also help in coordinating with other members for our protests and related events.”
Pooja doesn’t segregate her schedule for ROB but rather makes time whenever her help is required. Almost bursting out aloud when quizzed if her social commitments come in way of her academics, she says, “Undergraduation is the best phase for indulging in service, you have a lot of free time on hand. I don’t mean to say once you graduate, you need to desert service. Just that now you have fewer commitments and you can make maximum use of your time.” This Asian College of Journalism aspirant is now focussing on a symposium planned by ROB in August that will get international experts to debate on effective ways of disposing garbage.