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Friday, August 05, 2016

Introducing our Tree Plantation NGO "Kalpavriksha"

As they say, Money is not an end by itself but a means to achieve the end. 
And that's exactly what it is proving to be. My Financial Freedom was not an end in itself, but became a means for me to launch my long cherished dream - an organization with a commitment to plant a million trees, and hence we are launching 'Kalpavriksha'....
Read on..

I have been a lover of green ever since my childhood days. Having pots at home, taking care of them, seeing them blossom... these things have always pulled me. And the things that pull you are the things that you were always designed to do. That is what you ought to dedicate your life to. That is where you will always be happy. That is where there is nothing 'hard' in the work. That is your passion. That is your love. That is your purpose of existence on this planet.

Of course, there were many questions crisscrossing my mind before I could launch this ambitious initiative. Will I have the time, money and resources to manage an initiative to plant a million trees? Who will support my family if I dedicate my life towards my passion? How will financial security be taken care of? How will the time aspect be taken care of? And as champions do, they look for a solution in every challenge they face. 

Whenever there is a problem, there are bound to be solutions too. My solution was to attain Financial Freedom first. I realized that Financial Freedom would give me both Time and money together - a combination most cannot even dream of. Once I have time and money, I will pursue my dreams. I worked hard, saved rigorously, invested wisely, and got financially free. I chased my financial freedom so passionately that many thought that this was my dream - to be financially free. But this was my means, this was the goal I wanted to achieve to pursue my ultimate dreams in life.

I did exactly that. I do not know how will I plant a million trees. I do not know who will come along with me. But as Dream On says, "You just got to get started. Starting is vital. Similar minded people will come together. People are looking for leaders - those who are aware where they are headed."
 
Recently, I happened to watch a TED talk by the Prime Minister of Bhutan Mr. Tshering Tobgay. And my love towards green took a different turn. In this illuminating talk, Bhutan's Prime Minister shares his country's mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation. That Happiness was always the end objective of every goal and dream, was known to us when we published the book Happiness Unlimited.

You can view the video here...


In this talk, the Bhutanese PM explains how Bhutan is the only carbon negative country (remember it's not Carbon Zero but Carbon negative) in the world. He explains how the Constitution of Bhutan enforces them to have at least 60% of their land always covered under forests. Yes, 60%.
 
Doesn't this hinder the so called growth of this small but beautiful nation? Of course it does. But who cares about GDP. They measure their progress, not by GDP, but be GHP.. Gross Happiness Product. For Bhutanese, being happy is more important than having more money, and for that to happen, they got to live in complete harmony with nature. Every Bhutanese citizen plants an average of 200 trees in his or her lifetime. How many have we planted until now? Or are we waiting for more disasters to happen? Or we think someone else will come from the outer planet to save us?

Without any further wait, we decided to start our own non profit organization by the name Kalpavriksha which has a target to plant 1 million trees in my lifetime. We did a soft launch of Kalpavriksha about 2 months back on Facebook. Here is the Facebook page of Kalpavriksha. (Go..Like it..Share it...Be a part of the revolution brewing around you).
After setting up the initial processes, we just picked up one park (We named it as Park 1) in our locality and completed its afforestation by planting 12 trees. 

Its not ONLY about planting trees
I have seen and participated in so many tree plantation drives that even if just 70% of the planted trees would have survived, my city would have become a green zone by now. Sadly, the survival rate is as low as 1 to 2%. Because the challenge is not planting trees, the bigger challenge is to nurture the planted trees for the next 24 months. And that's where you need someone who is dedicated, committed and passionate about this purpose.

Therefore, after planting these 12 trees of Mango, Jamun and Neem varieties in Park 1, we went about the task of providing them physical protection from children playing cricket and football in the park. Me and my younger daughter, Harshita, went about picking bricks one by one till we had close to 100. Each tree was provided with a protection ring of bricks. We then went about searching for a caretaker for this park - someone who can water these 12 trees and take general care for the next 2 years till they become self reliant in all aspects. And after a lot of trouble and reluctance by many young and old, we found one in our neighborhood : Kanchan Mehta. Mrs Kanchan readily agreed to take the responsibility for the next 2 years. It is people like Mrs Kanchan who are the real movers and shakers of our society.

Here are some pictures you might love to see..





What next?
Park 1 afforestation is now completed with the hand over to a passionate caretaker. We will now move to Park 2. And so on - this process will repeat.
We will come up with a points based system on our website that will ensure a healthy competition and provide the latest update on all the planted trees.

The Challenges we have
1. We need to buy iron cages instead of using bricks. Bricks sometime fall on the planted tree itself and can do more harm then good. We are short of funds right now, but will go on a fund collection drive soon.
2. We need to increase the speed and out reach to be able to achieve our target of 1 Million Trees.

How can you participate?
We will soon open up Kalpavriksha for all of you to participate - either by donating funds, nominating yourself as a manager for a park or a set of trees, or just being our Green Agent. Till then, wish us luck.

In the end, as we sit at the cusp of this new revolution, Dream On has taught me two more things which I shall never forget in my life:
1) It does not matter how big or small player you are, what matters is on which side you are - Are you on the side which is making change happen?
2) You may not see everything with clarity when you get started. But trust HIM. Through ups and downs, failures and successes, HE is there as your teacher to guide you on the path you were always designed to travel.

Come, Dream On with me. Wish Kalpavriksha all the best !


Are you ready to Dream On in life, and get set to lead an extraordinary life? 
Catch hold of this epic story of a dreamer, catch hold of the book.. Dream On.

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Cheers



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