SI South Kolkata Community Forest Project
The project is ready to plant with 4 hundred thousand saplings. Soroptimists donating to plant mangrove saplings, will receive a matching gift from KSCH. For every £5 equivalent, 10 saplings can be planted which will be matched with another 16 Saplings. Meaning 26 saplings in total will be planted in the donor’s name.
Link to donate. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to choose the currency you want to donate with. https://fundraisers.giveindia.org/campaigns/the-mangrove-community-forest-in-collaboration-with-sisk
SI South Kolkata Mangrove Forest
What a beautiful day 6th of January 2021 was! The azure sky and the sparkling blue waters of River Dutta reflected perfect harmony. It was an extremely satisfying and fulfilling day for us. A hundred years ago the first Soroptimist Sisters had taken up cudgels to rebuild the Redwood Forest and they did!
Here were we, a group of Soroptimists, albeit in another part of our dear, precious Mother Earth, trying to rebuild the mangrove forests, absolutely in sync with our SIGBI Centenary Tree Planting Project.
Mangroves, mangroves and more mangroves…that’s what we need. The mangroves protect our shoreline, prevent soil erosion, form the habitat for our rich biodiversity, have fruits that are edible as well as medicinal, provide opportunities for livelihoods…the list could simply go on and on.
After the International Webinar on Ill Effects of Climate Change in My City hosted by SI Madurai, we seriously started thinking about planting mangroves to rebuild our coastline and re-create the ‘Himalayas’ of the south. Just like the Himalayas protect us in the north, the mangroves protect us from severe cyclonic storms, and tidal surges. The super cyclone Amphan last May 2020 had demonstrated the ferocity of the sea.
We shortlisted a few NGOs and we finally decided on Kolkata Society for Cultural Heritage (KSCH) as our collaborator at the grassroots level. The founder-director of KSCH is passionate about livelihood generation and environmental issues. Though a computer engineer by profession, working at IBM for seven years, he gave it all up in order to work towards re-building nature and natural resources.
Many zoom meetings later, when our Mangrove fund was sizeable enough to start work, we did so in conjunction with KSCH on 11th of November 2020 and planted 1000 mangrove saplings of two varieties.
Soon other clubs and many individuals joined us: SI Pune Metro East and SI Chennai Downtown had lent us support from Day 1. SI members from all over, friends and relatives have come forward with contributions. The drive for garnering funds is an ongoing one, seeing that a really vast area has become denuded.
The tranquil blue expanse of water welcomed us into the Delta. Whoever could imagine that this calm river could become wild and tumultuous during a storm? A few Soroptimist Sisters of South Kolkata along with a few KSCH members had gone to visit our plantation site in the Sunderbans, West Bengal. The thousand saplings planted earlier were doing well. At low tide we could see the slender whitish stalks gently swaying in the breeze. We planted 400 more: two other varieties of mangroves. We met our workforce, the villagers of two neighbouring villages near the plantation site. We were pleasantly surprised when the melodious sound of conch shells greeted us and two young girls welcomed us with a small bunch of flowers and the traditional tika on the forehead. It was so heart-warming to see their smiles when we distributed blankets and old but durable, good quality clothes. The children loved the biscuits and cakes we had taken for them.
As they waved us goodbye when our boat sailed away, the resounding chorus of “Come again!” still rings in my ears. We must go there again and again and yet again till our work of rebuilding the mangrove is done.
We are determined to raise a wall of mangroves along the Sunderbans in the delta at the head of the Bay of Bengal. The mangroves are our protectors. They alone can arrest the rate of climate change in this area and prevent low lying areas from being washed off into the sea.
Adieu! Wait for us! We’ll come again!
PAC, SI South Kolkata