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November 20th, 2011 . . . over 150 people gathered to raise awareness about keeping the Ganges clean and working toward making Kashi a World Heritage City.  Project Surya drafted a “Declaration of Commitment” signed by several Varanasi organizations stating the following:

We the people of Kashi, do hereby declare our sincere commitment to bringing light to our community by making it a cleaner, healthier, happier place, worthy of status as a UNESCO World Heritage City.  The long-term sustainability of a world-class city is dependent upon the vision and actions of its citizens and the ability of their public servants to address constituents’ needs.  As leaders in a unified Banares, as citizens of the largest democracy in the world, we pledge the following:

  1. To prevent unhealthy personal and city-wide habits by raising awareness of the most pressing issues in the community.
  2. To take action to address these specific issues by means including but not limited to: consistent hands-on projects (e.g. adoption of the ghats, yoga health camps) and innovative city-wide programs (e.g. the Corpse Alertline).
  3. To elicit progressive policy by communicating and cooperating with the government’s administration in ways including but not limited to regular petitions, letters, protests, and public gatherings.

This is by no means an exclusionary document.  The following signatories welcome any and all groups in Varanasi to join forces and pave the way for community efforts in the city’s bright green future as a UNESCO World Heritage City.

Project Surya will be checking in with these organizations regularly to ensure long term change stays a priority.

Highlight of the Day

Whilst taking out the ceremony flowers from plastic bags on the shore of the river, I met several local kids who were more than willing to help me with the little project.  They jumped right in – and the looks of pride and satisfaction on their faces when we filled our bin with plastic bags were priceless.  Here are a few special photos from my favorite part of the day:

A few of the awesome local kids who got down and dirty picking up plastic bags and chai cups.

The cleanup was a huge success, especially in terms of media coverage.  Four local and two national papers covered the event – clippings to follow!

Special thanks to GANGA FUJI HOME at the Meer Ghat in Varanasi, sponsor of 750 stickers, brooms and gloves.  Rock on, Raj!