This girl’s Swachh Bharat effort in Varanasi’s Prabhu Ghat got even Narendra Modi talking about her
It is a rare moment when the Prime Minister of India tweets and commends a common man’s effort to make India a better place.
On April 1, Narendra Modi tweeted about a little known Temsutula Imsong and her team’s effort to clean Varanasi’s famous Prabhu Ghat. And, it was not a fool’s day prank!
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 1, 2015
Inspired by Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abiyan or Clean India Movement, Nagaland’s Temsutula Imsong, Varanasi’s very own Darshika Shah and their team decided to clean one of filthiest ghats in India – the Prabhu Ghat.
Their journey began with a humble boat ride on the Ganga in February 2015. After seeing the appalling state of the Prabhu Ghat, the duo decided to take it on themselves to clean the holy site.
Their Mission Prabhu Ghat was driven by a strong social media campaign, and a bunch of enthusiastic youngsters who joined their cause.
Folomojo spoke to Temsutula about their mission and what it took to get the Prabhu Ghat to what it is now.
Here’s their story.
The life-changing boat ride
Temsutula and Darshika, who run an NGO named Sakaar Sewa Samiti, have been actively involved in cleaning the surroundings around popular ghats for over three years now. It was a boat ride in February 2015 that changed their lives.
“As we passed Prabhu Ghat, the stench was unbearable. We decided to check for ourselves by taking a walk around the ghat. I recall vividly the sight that we were presented with. It was disgusting, in fact the most disgusting sight I was ever saw.”
She adds, “Excreta strewn all over the Ghat and every few inches a “sight” that would want to make anyone puke. While Darshika was livid with rage, I felt helpless. There was nothing holy about what we were seeing.”
A journey that began with Rs 10,000
However, the duo did not remain silent over the plight. They approached the district authorities first to see if anything can be done about the flighty state of the ghats. However, they received a negative response.
This indifference, really made all the difference.
“We decided to go ahead on our own and be the change. Darshika and I pooled in some finances – which were shocking for some, unbelievable for most and but for us it is something that makes us smile. We both pooled in Rs. 5,000 each.”
They were riding on positivity
Cleaning up the Prabhu Ghat was definitely not going to be an easy task. Resources were a major constraint for Temsutula and her team. However, they didn’t give up. With a ‘we can do’ attitude, she and her team kick started their effort.
“Our total expenses were Rs 2,700 by the 4th day. This was not possible had it not been for the kind people who pitched in. We were lucky. We managed to get nice people to do the initial cleaning with us. The labour costs were to the tune of Rs 1,800 and about Rs 900 was spent on purchasing gear like brooms, buckets, phenyl, trash bags, masks etc.”
Was it all hunky dory for Temsutula? Of course not. They did bump into a bunch of people who nitpicked their efforts. She also came across a few who mocked them and passed lewd comments. However, Temsutula and her team did not let these obstacles affect her.
“On social media there were some who were constantly trying to paint the entire effort in a bad light. We decided to ignore them and focus on the people who stood by us and that took care of all the negativity as we were surplus on positivity.”
Social media made all the difference
Temsutula and Darshika, who gave themselves a deadline of March 22, used social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and crowd sourcing to spread awareness among people and to gather volunteers for their mission. Soon the duo also began to interact with locals and put their best foot forward.
“On March 18, we started with #MissionPrabhu Ghat . We were also joined by our fellow volunteers – Manish Dhar Dubey, Shreyash Singh, Ayush Mishra, Anurag Singh, Ankit Pandey, all of who believed in the same dream. They gave us strength and support and the results were beyond our wildest imagination. This is how it started and the results are for all to see!”
This tweet from Temsutula on March 18 says it all!
— Temsutula Imsong (@temsutulaimsong) March 18, 2015
A stepping stone for Clean India
Thanks to Temsutula and her team’s efforts, the Prabhu Ghat in Varanasi is a clean, shining and majestic sight. They believe that their mission is just a stepping stone and want more and more people to engage with the Swachh Bharat movement.
— Temsutula Imsong (@temsutulaimsong) March 27, 2015
“People are motivated to Clean India. However, they don’t have a proper platform or initiation. We are thankful to social media as it gave us an opportunity to reach people directly and spread the word. We saw the power of social media in this.”
Inspired by Modi
For Temsutula and Darshika, their biggest inspiration has been Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“By nature, I am a cleanliness freak. But, if you talk about inspiration for Mission Prabhu Ghat, then it’s definitely Modi Ji.”
Reacting to Modi’s tweet mentioning her and her team’s efforts in cleaning Prabhu Ghat, Temsutula expressed joy and said that things wouldn’t have been possible without Modi’s Swachh Bharat mission.
“Am thankful to Modi Ji for his continuous inspiration. Even small kids on the ghat were saying – “Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan ke liye aaye hain!!” This speaks of the reach of the vision of our Prime Minister. The Clean India vision was acknowledged, accepted and also imbibed to some extent, by society. We could see that and credit for this must go to Narendra Modi.”
“Now, not only me, but all my other team members are now more energised to do more.”
What next for Mission Prabhu Ghat pioneers?
When asked about their next mission, Temsutula humbly said that the team hasn’t decided anything yet.
“We have not marked a particular place yet. We want to make Prabhu Ghat a model for others to emulate in terms of finances, efficiency, execution and every other facet that concerns cleanliness. The word is spreading fast and we are seeing results. #MissionPrabhu Ghat is not over yet, we are trying to get a viable solution to the problem of defecation, and also getting Prabhu Ghat on the tourist map of Varanasi.”
It doesn’t end here
For Temsutula and her team, the journey to Clean India has just begun and they want more and more people to join the revolution. Here’s what she has to say
“We want to carry on our mission and want all our fellow countrymen to join our effort in achieving a Clean India.”
In Pics: A look at their effort and their achievement. These photos speak for themselves.
For more pics visit: Mission Prabhu Ghat on Facebook
Here’s all the buzz surrounding this story
— Amish Tripathi (@authoramish) April 3, 2015
@sunitaiyer Anything good & extraordinary always appreciated by all & that is good thing that it has been noticed !
— Singh SD (@singhsvdv) April 3, 2015
— tarun singh (@singhtarun4977) April 2, 2015
— Manish Katiyar (@manish4bjp) April 2, 2015
— Tajinder Pal S Bagga (@tajinderbagga) April 2, 2015
— Rasheeda Bhagat (@rushbl) April 2, 2015
— nnijagal (@nnijagal) April 2, 2015
— SudhirBharg (@sudhirbharg) April 2, 2015
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