It was the dawn of 29th December, 2022. The chilling morning breeze swept across Patna Junction. The student interns from Tarumitra were looking forward to a day full of joy and learning. With new faces and potential friends all around, no one bothered to check their phones in the hour-long train ride. All of us reached Mokama station at 8am.
Three electric autorickshaws took our interns from Mokama station to their destination – the CRPF camp at Mokama Ghat, Bihar. Starting the day with eco-friendly vehicles felt amazing! And this feeling of wonder was continued after everyone reached the beautiful premises of the CRPF camp.
There, we were greeted by Munna Sir and a group of children from a school in Mokama itself. We were tasked to teach the children more about our beautiful environment, and in return, they gave us a tour of the camp. We were surprised and amazed to find out that earlier, the camp used to be a long railway station and had later been transformed into a CRPF camp. What a wonderful example of reuse and recycle, isn’t it? The entire area stretched out for about 3.1km.
We then moved on to the Shaurya Wan. The Shaurya Wan is a forest made by the CRPF group itself using the Miyawaki technique. The Miyawaki technique of growing forests was founded by Akira Miyawaki, a Japanese botanist. The method consists of planting seeds extremely close to each other so that the plants receive sunlight only from the top. This results in the plants competing for sunlight and hence, they primarily grow upwards and not sideways. This leads to the formation of dense (mini) forests quickly which would otherwise take a long time to grow. ‘Shaurya’ means courage, and ‘Wan’ means forest. As the name suggests, this forest has been dedicated to our courageous Indian soldiers who lost their lives while fighting for our country.
As we moved further, we could see the railway platforms and chambers for collecting plastic waste. The entire camp was like a small city which has its own transportation facilities, petrol pump, grocery store, school, hospital, garden, nursery, religious places and other places that are commonly found in a city. There was lush greenery all around and all the trees were properly named.
Next stop was the Jim Corbett Museum. Jim Corbett was the station master of this railway station during the British rule. He was a renowned hunter who killed hundreds of man-eating leopards and tigers. Corbett also played an instrumental role in establishing India’s first national park in the Kumaon Hills. The park was renamed after him in 1957.
Our interns got the chance to see the books that he used to read, and everything else in the museum was preserved and documented extremely well.
We then conducted a fun activity called ‘Binding The Bird’ with our host students. We gave each one of them a rubber band to tie around their wrists and asked them to close their hands tightly. They were simply asked to remove the bands from their hand. But there was a twist. They couldn’t use their other hand or mouths! Most of our friends struggled with the tasks, only a few could manage to be successful. But what was the purpose of such an activity? It was to make the children understand the struggles that birds have to face after swallowing or getting stuck in plastic. This activity inspired them to segregate and systematically dispose the waste that they produced then onwards.
Finally, it was time for some rest. In the afternoon we had our lunch. We were privileged to have rice, dal, and mashed potatoes made by our humble CRPF jawans themselves. Everyone gathered in the garden to enjoy their meals and narrated inspirational stories to keep the children entertained. We went to the rooftop where we had a lovely time with each other. We talked, laughed, and relaxed ourselves.
Next came the medicinal garden and nursery. There we told the students how we consume plastic unknowingly. Different plants like Ashwagandha, Neem, Tulsi, and Arjun were to be found. The interns learnt about the uses of these herbs as well. The saplings and plants were taken well care of.
Everyone got the opportunity to see the arms and ammunitions used by our CRPF jawans, and they also explained how these weapons function. We then moved to the auditorium where we spoke about the place and our lovely experience at the camp. We gifted ‘Sita Ashok’ plants to the CRPF team as a token of gratitude and respect.
To add the cherry on top of the cake, the trip was concluded with a bonfire on the river bank. We had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ram Gopal Verma, who is a specialist in Ayurveda. He taught us about Vata, Kapha, and Pitta and gave us tips on how to maintain the three in equilibrium in order to facilitate the healthy functioning of our bodies.
With that, the day came to an end and we returned to Patna Junction at 10pm. With lots of fun also came an amazing experience and enlightening knowledge. Our interns came to know about the beauty of our country and what its culture has to offer the world. The beautiful Mokama Ghats, the Ayurvedic herbs at the nursery, the forests and camp set by our jawans were some of the few things that made us feel proud about being Indians, and made us realise the moral responsibility that we have on our shoulders to show the world the right path and also to walk on it ourselves.
The humility and simplicity of the CRPF group was inspiring. If the people who lay down their lives for their country can go even beyond and work towards its environmental preservation, then why can’t we?