CHENNAI: Chennai-based civil engineer Madhusudhana Gupta decided his son Kushal’s birthday would be different. Rather than just a cake and birthday hats, he decided to ‘swachh’ up four areas in Mettupalam, Perambur and Periyar Pathai, Choolaimedu.
The idea, he says, started with a group of eight engineers from around the world, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the US. “We were part of the 1997-99 M Tech structural engineering batch. Now that we have all settled down, we wanted to do something for the society. Eight of us met last June in Chennai and I put forward the plan, which they supported,” he says.
Their first targets, with the help of NGOs Nidharsanam Trust and Nallorevattam, were a slum area and a government school in Perambur. “There was a lot of garbage dumped in front of the school and too many mosquitoes. So we trained children from the school to paint the walls outside,” he narrates. “The kids loved it and passersby stopped to take pictures.”
To ensure that children attended school regularly, they sponsored sports kits and put a person in charge of it. This ensured that only kids who attended classes could use the sports equipment. The initiative is not a one-day thing. “For Kushal’s birthday, I started planning a month in advance. We need to identify the place, speak to the people there, interact with the Corporation... It’s a long process,” he says.
At Mettupalam and Periyar pathai, they targeted slum areas. “We distributed 75 dustbins to the families and taught them how to segregate their waste. We also gave a stipend to a person from the same locality and put him in charge of ensuring the same,” says Madhusudhana, adding that they met with 60% success rate.
“For every birthday, we want to provide a solution. If people are interested, they too can do something like this on their own. If they have already identified an area, they can approach us and we will organise any of the six activities (see box) they want,” says Madhusudhana.
For more details, visit http://swachhbharatindia.com
6 things for ‘Feel of a Birthday’ initiative
Cleaning Greening (planting saplings) Whitewashing and colourwashing Garbage to manure conversion Giving dustbins Appointing a person to ensure this