Thames River Clean-Up
On Friday18th July in Central London, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) and Ganga Action Parivar (GAP) joined forces with Thames21, London’s lead Thames waterway charity to clean up the rubbish strewn banks of the River Thames.
This unique collaboration saw HH Pujya Swamiji Chidanand Saraswatiji, the President of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh (India), Founder of Ganga Action Parivar, India and co-founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance , mobilise dozens of volunteers of all ages who, in searing heat, donned wellies and gloves to dig up countless discarded plastic bags and other waste that had sunk below the muddy surface at the Isle of Dogs. In the shadow of the 02 Arena Pujya Swamij modelled yoga in action by immediately and dedicatedly giving his hands to the massive task at hand.
Pujya Swamiji has made the restoration and protection of the Ganges a major priority along with environmental projects to provide clean water, Eco-friendly toilets and tree planting for the benefit of the people and the habitats along the river. Through the work of Ganga Action Parivar (GAP) and the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) Pujya Swamiji’s organizations are bringing clean water, toilets, sanitation, waste management programs as well as innumerable other facilities to the more than 500 million people who live on the banks of the Ganges River. Pujya Swamiji initiated this Thames clean up to raise awareness that all rivers are sacred as they bring life. “We should all work to keep our rivers clean and revere them as we revere the Ganga, for water is truly life and therefore holy,” said Pujya Swamiji as he helped the children dig into the muddy banks to retrieve some of the seemingly endless plastic bags.
At the end of the session, Pujya Swamiji, Sadhvi Bhagawatiji and Debbie Matkin, CEO of Thames21 together signed a Memorandum of Understanding of GAP, GIWA and Thames21 on the bank of the Thames committing to a future collaborative relationship that would mutually support the goals of both charities to save the Thames and Ganga. “This has been a very good day” said Debbie Matkin ” and we are looking forward to working together with GAP and GIWA to raise awareness in the community that there are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved in preserving their rivers”.
Pujya Swamiji and Debbie Matkin also emphasised the importance of not using single use plastic bags which are an environmental disaster in both the UK and India. Pujya Swamiji has led the anti plastic bag campaign in inIndia, resulting in many cities now banning them and Debbie is also leading the same campaign in the UK.
The Thames clean up ended with all the volunteers celebrating both the Thames and Ganga and making a commitment to continue to hold regular community clean ups on the banks of the Thames, England’s most iconic river.