A French national is cleaning up the Fort Kochi beach with the help of volunteers. The local autorickshaw drivers are regular helpers
A strange sight beholds you at Vasco Square, Fort Kochi. A foreign national holds up a poster that reads: God created this beach. Keep it clean, please, please, please. Soon curious passers-by flock around and Tony Vantelon, a French, is able to enlist volunteers to his cause of cleaning the beach.
Tony has been doing so for the past four days but dislikes media coverage. Yet his good work deserves mention. It is purely the Good Samaritan attitude that drives Tony to do such deeds that may look, feel, sound strange to a self-centred work-a-day world. Tony is a fruit picker, if one goes by his professional status, but it is his noble desire to lessen our impact on Planet Earth and to save it from destruction that impels him to do such deeds. He has found success earlier, in a similar service that he began in a village in Morocco. His cleanliness drive, to clean an oasis there, drew villagers in droves and they cleaned the place. Three years later, when he visited it again, he says it was spotless. Fort Kochi beach, he hopes, will show the same success.
On the first day he was helped by newly made acquaintances, one of who gave him a thousand chips to buy the initial material for cleaning. The first thing he did was to collect the ‘chappals' strewn all over the soft sand and made a huge pile of it, photos of which the auto drivers show from their cell phones. Tony has had more help since the first day. Football players from the beach join him regularly in the morning and do their bit of social service. Visiting schools and a few can-do spirits also join in. He begins early, by 5. 30 a.m., and finishes by noon. He encourages others to join saying that if 100 people join they can finish the work in 10 minutes!
Tony is 37yearsold and encourages a back-to-nature lifestyle. He is keenly aware of the world situation and of man's ravaging lifestyle that's hurting our planet. He is very confident of his efforts and believes in “the moment and the movement”. Vandana Shiva and Barack Obama, in different ways, are his inspirations. Aware of local history, he says, that Mahatma Gandhi had visited Fort Koch beach and that the people of the area should take pride in keeping it clean.
And though Tony does not like publicity for his work, he feels that a celebrity like Aishwarya Rai could be roped in to take the causeof keeping environment clean forward!