Downtown

Towards clear blue skies

The NGO has also conducted blood donation camps and planted saplings. Photo: G. Krishnaswamy  

Nine alumni of Sankara Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Pammal started Visumbu, an NGO, in January, 2013, with the objective of starting a cleanliness movement in the neighbourhood. Visumbu means Neela Vaanam (clear blue skies), and they chose the name to suggest that they want to work towards a problem-free world. Several clean-ups later, the organisation is going strong.

It beginnings were small. K. Panayappan, a member, made a documentary on social issues and showed it to his college mates.

The documentary showcased the objectives of the organisation. Through frequent meetings and discussions, the NGO’s founder-members sought to sharpen the focus of what they intended to achieve through it.

“Our first initiative involved teaching children in the age group of three to six at an orphanage in Pozhichalur,” said, V.L. Venkata Varadhan, one of the founder-members. However, Visumbu was not content with sticking to such simple initiatives.

It sought to expand the horizons of its work and, in March 2013, its members cleaned a dumping yard at VOC Nagar, Pammal, with the help of Exnora on a private land, and turned it into a badminton court.

“But people continued to throw garbage in the yard and we cleaned it for a period of three months, and requested the residents not to dump garbage there. Our efforts finally bore fruit,” Panayappan said. It was then that Panayappan made a documentary based on issues such as de-forestation, water pollution, leadership, and personality development, and showed it to his college mates at Sri Dhanalakshmi College of Engineering, Manimangalam Post.

“After watching the documentary, around 70 students, who are experts in different fields, joined the organisation. We ensure members help their co-members in areas where they need help. We keep on equipping ourselves with skill and knowledge,” he added.

Today, Visumbu has become a metonym for clean environment in the neighbourhood.

In collaboration with Hindu Mission Hospital, West Tambaram, Visumbu conducts blood donation camps, and creates awareness among people so that they reduce bursting of crackers and noise and air pollution at Pammal is reduced.

In 2014, Visumbu planted around 500 saplings sourced from the State Forest Department, in and around Pammal, and made emergency lamps, which Saveetha University distributed in the remote villages of the State. The members use their own money for their activities or generate funds by designing websites for commercial establishments in the neighbourhood.

“In 2015, we conducted career guidance programmes for Class X, XII, and XII students of Sri Sankara Vidyalaya Pammal, and Sunshine School, Kodambakkam,” Arun Kumar B, a member, said. The members played an active role during the floods in November and December 2015, chipping in with funds and relief materials and distributing them to the needy. “We cooked and served food to the flood-affected people in Anakapathur, one of the worst-affected areas in Chennai for a week,” Kumar said, adding, “In the days to come, our focus would be on keeping the public space clean.” For details about the organisation, call 9543499658, 9962775415.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 12:40:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/Towards-clear-blue-skies/article14344278.ece

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