Friday, June 21, 2013

Rise of the Garbage Girl | A Real Life Story

We know about Steve Jobs. How he started a company and later got kicked out of it just to come back a couple of years later to perform even bigger role. It all sounds like a dream, Bollywood Style. But it did happen. 

And another similar incidence happened in the hills as well. I was lucky to witness this one.

Jodie Underhill, popularly known as the Garbage Girl started cleaning up the streets of Dharamshala during her visit to India in the year 2009. She liked the place but not the garbage spilled all around it. Rather than cribbing about it, she took up the job of cleaning the streets. She started out as a One Woman Army; motivating kids about the importance of garbage management. Soon she was joined by like minded people; some foreigners and few Indians.

I got to know about Jodie in 2011 when I met her during one of my trekking expeditions in the Himalayas. I wrote an article about her in and also interviewed her for a leading regional newspaper. [Read Here]

She started out her NGO called Mountain Cleaners and continued her good work with part-timers, volunteers, and full-timers, as and when they came to her. Her NGO even participated with the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL Dharamshala matches. Soon her NGO was a popular brand. Volunteers started pouring in. Even funds were not a problem anymore unlike the first few years when she was really struggling to get funds.

She even got few people onboard to expand the NGO, which meant expanding the scope of work and spreading the awareness to a larger audience.

Now this is what you call a dream come true. Don’t you?

But then I did mention Steve Jobs in the beginning of this post. The new board members managed to oust her in no time. After she had given all her youth to Mountain Cleaners, she was no more a part of it. But Jodie wasn’t going down easily. Halfheartedly she left India with a promise to come back.

You can read the gut wrenching piece she wrote when she left Mountain Cleaners. [ Read Here]

Why and when, she didn’t know. But deep inside she knew that India wouldn’t let her go. Not like this at least. After working for a while in Clean Up Britain in England,  the Universe conspired again and she got a call back to work in India again. Not with Mountain Cleaners but with Waste Warriors in Dehradun.

She founded Waste Warriors to start afresh. To keep India clean and green. She picked right from where she had left. No regrets, and no surrenders.

If life is all about Relishing the Challenge, then nobody knows it better than Jodie Underhill. 

Many volunteers who had worked with her in the past joined her in her new endeavor. Here she is back in India, starting from the scratch again. Getting off the ground for a startup is always difficult. And many people relinquish their dreams in the initial phase mostly.

But not the types of Jodie Underhill. They surely know the art of fighting.

Jodie Underhill is an inspiration.

This post is my fifth entry for Cinthol’s Relishing the Challenge Campaign

1 comment:

amitgoda said...

Politics acche kamon me atleast nahi hona chahiye