Success for Mumbai Versova beach, Mumbai, India. Now home to the venerable Olive Ridley turtle, olive-green in colour it is the smallest yet most abundant sea turtle in the ocean. For the first time in decades the turtles are naturally nesting after plastic pollution devastating their habitat. With 80 of the turtles making their way from the southern end of the 3 km long beach, into the Arabian Sea within just one week (March 2018).
Down to one man and his mission to re-educate and change the behaviour of villagers and individuals living in the surrounding slums. Lawyer Afroz Shah took to the streets and slums of Mumbai on his own in 2016. Shah began by offering to clean communal toilets and picking up rubbish. After six to eight weeks people began to offer help and join him. Labelled by the United Nations as the “world’s largest beach clean-up project”, Versova beach transformed to a rubbish filled dumping ground to a natural nesting habitat within two years.
Shah spent the duration of the ongoing operation leading volunteers to manually pick up rubbish on the beach and teaching residents about pollution and how to manage their waste sustainable along the coastline and creaks. He also taught them how it benefited themselves and their environment around them. Shah had more than education of the volunteers and residents but changing the mindset of the community. Giving them a reason to care for their environment.
There are many factors as to why people may volunteer and their motivations for doing so. Anderson and Moore (1978) look at individuals working as a volunteer to serve a moral purpose, an opportunity to contribute to the moral wellbeing and happiness of their fellow men/ women. It is these humanitarian reasons that outweigh other factors such as education, sex, social status and background. The desire to help and motivate. Clearly evident during the Versova beach clean up. Starting with one person over a period of two years the team grew to 25 volunteers.
Written by: Natalie White