About the author: Pujashree Mahanta, a botany student from Hindu College, shares with us her journey at Swechha and talks about her small contribution to the environment.
My life was good and merry until it took a U-turn. After one year of rigorous studies for UPSC exams, I went through a long period of anxiety and insomnia. It took me about 5 months to recover from that phase, and it was my internship that helped me recover from the worst days of my life. Even though I had a lot of work, I wasn’t happy. Perhaps I wasn’t interested in what I was doing at that time, or maybe because it had become too monotonous and dull. That’s when I understood, how our mental health and our work are mutually related.
After searching for a few internships, I got a call from Swechha. It is an environmental NGO which contributes enormously to the well-being of nature and its surroundings. The selection process was simple. The coordinator sent an email inviting all the applicants and asked us to bring our CVs along. Once we reached the office, I noticed that the entire office was made using recycled material. The sofas and desks were made out of old car tires and recycled leather materials, and the terrace was designed with beautiful glass flower pots and small plants. After a short while, the coordinator joined us and asked us about ourselves. It was a beautiful conversation in a cozy upcycled room. Once we were done, she gave us a detailed introduction about Swechha and its work. I started from the next day itself. There were no hard and fast rules in Swechha; people worked as much as they wanted to.
I worked in a park adopted by Swechha in Vasant Kunj. The entire park was designed by Swechha and was divided into a kitchen garden, a butterfly garden, a cactus garden, an indoor plants section, a vegetable garden, and a forest garden. There was a gardener whose prime responsibility was to take care of the park and water the plants. Most of the plants, planted by the volunteers, had already been identified but the species which were indigenous to the park weren’t, and I had been assigned the task to identify the species, probably because I am a botany graduate. It was difficult to identify the small plants like the Creeping Blepharis, the rock breaker plant, and the coat button plant but it was extremely fulfilling too. I also did a lot of research on the other plants from the citric and the kitchen gardens. I had to work in the office as well as in the field, and so it hardly ever became monotonous. My second task was to start my own campaign under Swechha’s Monsoon Wooding event. It was a fundraising event wherein people could support and contribute towards the upliftment of nature. The major objective was to raise funds for a greener Delhi where we would plant more saplings and look after them. The name of my individual campaign was ‘one step greener, several steps cleaner‘; my goal was to raise 5000 rupees for the project which I achieved within 5 days. It was an amazing experience to convince people to contribute to the greater good, and it was even better to see that people still cared for nature. It felt as if people had given meaning to my campaign’s title.
I learned a lot working with Swechha. I learned a lot about work ethics; I learned how important it is to be punctual and honest. I also learned about team spirit; Working in an organization made me realize how important teamwork could be. I learned more about plant species; being a botany graduate, I had an edge over other people, but working with Swechha helped me brush up my entire Botany knowledge. I did a lot of practical work, unlike college where things were mostly theoretical. I walked around the entire park identifying species and writing about their characteristics. I touched the plants to study their texture, smelled them to learn about the aromatoids, and researched about the pigments. I learned to be street smart. I had to talk with a lot of people walking by and also had to interact with the gardener to learn more about the plants. The gardener was immensely intelligent in his field and was really supportive in making our Airshed park a reality. From giving me an opportunity to work for the greater good of the environment, to helping me get away from the anxiety and insomnia, I can’t thank my internship enough. And most importantly, it was good to see an organization actually doing something to make Delhi greener and the Yamuna cleaner.
Do you also want to make a small contribution to the environment? Check out these latest NGO internships.
Editor’s note – If you also have an interesting story to share, you can now participate in Your Internship Story Contest 2017 and win cash prizes and goodies worth INR 1 Lac!