ACORN has been involved for the last two years in a Waste Matters campaign in 23+ schools across Mumbai. This multimedia and hands-on programme helps to increase the recognition of the rag-picker's role in alleviating our waste issues in urban India. And it helps schools and other partners with moving towards zero-waste solutions. This work of ours has involved screening documentary films (funded by Dharavi Project) in schools, taking school kids together with Dharavi rag-pickers on trips to amusement parks, and initiating a waste collection, segregation and disposal programme in 23+ schools. ACORN's rag-picker members from Dharavi also collect the dry waste twice a week from these same schools in Mumbai, to then be segregated in Dharavi. We are in the process of expanding this program beyond schools, to include housing societies and corporates. Because of our growing successes, we were also invited to the Lonavala's municipal counsel's tender for waste management and working with their rag-pickers.
Annual Eco-Fair and Ongoing Awareness Campaigns
ACORN partnered this year with The American Center, Mumbai, to launch a 1-month long Water to Earth campaign starting 22nd March, International Water Day. This campaign highlighted water and conservation issues in the city, and featured workshops, films on recycling, water preservation, global warming and alternative energy. The campaign spread awareness by distributing posters and leaflets in numerous school and retail locations around the city, and by taking a mobile exhibition around the city and connecting directly with youth. This campaign culminated on the 18th April at a day-long Earth Fair in the Maharashtra Nature Park, Mumbai, which is a well-rehabilitated landfill that is now a park that also contains innovations in rainwater harvesting and solar heating. Attendees included 400+ students and members in attendance from all across the school systems of Mumbai, prominent artists, actors, writers and firms specializing in water treatment. The fair featured workshops, films on recycling, water preservation, and global warming and alternative energy demonstrations. The music event Rags to Raga saw various musicians taking the stage. This Earth Fair of ACORN India is now an annual event for the citizens of Mumbai, specially dedicated to students. Last year's event was a major success; and so was this year's. “The idea was to bring children from different financial backgrounds together and make them understand their joint role in conserving the environment,” said Vinod Shetty, director of ACORN Foundation India. The fair began with a long line of students queuing up to be registered before moving on to experiencing nature walks organised by volunteers. Other activities on offer to the kids included adventure sports, photo exhibitions, a drawing competition, and film screenings covering eco-friendly themes. The evening ended with a vigorous music session that saw Shankar Mahadevan's troupe members Anushka Mani and Raghav Mahadevan belt out a succession of Bollywood numbers that had the kids on their feet and dancing to their tunes, while Suneeta Rao regaled the crowd with both her popular hits and a special song on global warming composed for the occasion. The last act belonged to rock bands Ankur Tewari and Something Relevant, who finished the evening in grand style.
ACORN has in the process of setting up a basic waste segregation facility in Dharavi, in order to give rag-pickers a secure area to collect and then safely segregate their dry waste and e-waste before then selling it on to traders and middlemen in the local recycling industry.
Purchase of Recycled Products
ACORN is helping some corporates gain access to ultra low-cost recycled items such as corrugated paper boxes from Dharavi recyclers that ACORN has a trusted non-profit relationship with. While helping the recyclers attain sustainable and fair price points, and increase the demand for rag-pickers.
Music/Arts Events with Top Performers
As part of our mission to use the arts to further our ACORN outreach, we have partnered with Blue Frog, arguably India's leading musical-performance venue. Besides helping Blue Frog with their dry waste management, a number of artists who are invited to Blue Frog to perform are also scheduled to visiting Dharavi and the nature park to conduct ACORN-organized workshops with kids and then perform pro bono. ACORN also hopes to raise some funds through this activity, to further a number of our other programs (as mentioned above). Six musicians were present at the April 18th eco fair from 4pm onwards, under the banner “Dharavi Rocks.” The first major workshop and Blue Frog –related gig was on April 29th when the internationally recognized beatbox band Boxettes from the UK came to the Dharavi nature park.