One year ago, on 26th June 2016, we began Project Nelda. Our goal was – and still is – to plant (or influence the planting of) a billion trees in India by the year 2041. Nelda is an Irish word that translates to ‘champion’ and a person who lives near alder trees. We love to live near trees too - and aim to be the champions that help to plant them.
That’s why Rohan Agawane, Sagar Bhagirath, Shivam Ghule and I founded Nelda, and have worked continuously since to keep the project going.
So, a year on, what kind of progress have we made? Read on to find out as we celebrate Nelda’s first birthday.
The First Events
Our first ever event, on 26th June 2016, was our plantation at Hanuman Tekdi, Pune. Our team – assisted by 25+ volunteers – managed to plant over 200 trees that day, adding so much more life and possibility to the area. We knew that this was just the start of what was to come. Here’s what happened next...
Planting Even More Trees at Hanuman Tekdi
Since Project Nelda began, we have planted over 400 trees at Hanuman Tekdi. These trees are regularly cared for by our founding members and of course our dedicated volunteers.
After we’d planted the additional trees, our first big event was on 12th February 2017, when we hosted the 'One Bucket One Plant Initiative' by Project Nelda. The premise was simple – donate your efforts to water at least one plant with one bucket to help make Earth a greener place.
Our most recent event was on 18th June 2017, when we invited volunteers from all over Pune to contribute a little of their time to the cause. Once again, we made sure that every volunteer watered at least one plant, helping to ensure all of our saplings will grow into strong, healthy trees. The event also combined a cleaning drive to help keep the area clean.
Volunteer Work in our Local Area
At Nelda, we and our volunteers don’t just focus on our own projects – we also want to do our best to help the local community. Here are just a few examples of things we’ve done over the past year to make a number of places in India an even better place to be. Keep reading to discover just a few examples of how we’ve become involved with our surrounding communities.
Our volunteers teamed up with the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in Katraj for a cleaning drive that helped to beautify this popular location. We managed to clear up any litter and debris from the area, as well as adding a beautiful new touch to the park with some of our volunteers’ painted artwork.
2. The Nelda Drawing Competition at the Army Public Schools
On 8th May 2017, we held two drawing competitions at the Army Public Schools at Dehu Road and Ghorpadi Road in Pune. Around 250 students participated in the competitions, and the given topic was – of course – the environment. The children came up with some amazing and creative ideas through their artwork, each showing their own ideas about the environment, the Earth and the way we live. Choosing the winners was a difficult task but we finally picked a select few, who were announced and awarded at the First Annual Nelda Recognition in June 2017 – which you can read about a little further on.
On 26th May 2017, we visited the EON IT Park in Kharadi to team up with iVolunteer and employees from Citi Bank. Our goal was to help a group of special children learn more about how important it is to recycle and live as ‘green’ as possible – as well as making sure they felt loved and valued, which is the most important thing of all.
On 3rd June, we hosted a presentation on The Current State of Environment in Pune, based on the Environment Status Report of Pune City 2015-16, presented by honourable Environment Officer of the Pune Municipal Corporation, Shri. Mangesh Dighe. This presentation helped our audience of 35+ citizens, who were mainly from multiple non-profit organisations, understand the facts about Pune's environment better.
5. Gaining Sponsors
As our work developed, we started to gain more attention for the cause – and even gained sponsors! On 11th June 2017, we planted three new saplings which were sponsored by iVolunteer, Mr. Pranav Kayande of MM's IMERT made the first cash donation of Rs. 5,000 to Nelda and also gave an interview to the Pune Metro News Channel!
The First Annual Nelda Recognitions was an event that took place on 25th June 2017 in celebration of our first year – and it was our biggest event yet. It was hosted by the Nelda Foundation and co-organised by MM’s IMERT Pune, Venrai Trust, Ekatva Foundation and HUHC – Help Us To Help The Child.
During the event at the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hall, Pune, we recognised 13 different non-profit organisations. Over 300 people attended from many different parts of society, making it such a special occasion. Attendees included NGOs, government members, volunteers and of course the local citizens of Pune.
The objective of the event was to get as many people as possible working together in one place to support social causes. It provided a positive and inspirational atmosphere for ideas to be shared and to show support for a cleaner, greener and better India.
The event not only helped to increase awareness of Project Nelda, but for the other awesome organisations we honoured too.
New Features for Nelda Supporters
We have also introduced two new features for Nelda – both of which are currently in their beta phases and will become fully functional over the coming months.
The first is the Nelda Shop. This is to help us gather money as a non-profit, to help us run more social activities for the project. 100% of the profits from the Nelda store will go to our charitable causes only.
The second new feature is Nelda Discussions. This is a way for us to bring together the communication and planning of non-profits – all in one place. It will be a discussion platform for volunteers, organisations, government and citizens can discuss and plan social activities in a much more organised, seamless way.
These are our birthday gifts to you, so we hope you enjoy them!
That’s a lot of things to happen in just one year, proving just how hard we’ve worked to get Project Nelda where it is today. If you want to learn more about the events we’ve been involved with or take a closer look at our work, check out our Facebook page where you can see more of the photos we’ve taken and gain a deeper insight into what we do to make the world a better place.
So, after all this, what comes next for Project Nelda?
Nelda is currently undergoing a change to help take our efforts to the next level. We’re becoming a registered non-profit organisation! You’ll be able to donate to the cause via our website, as well as buy merchandise and other products from the Nelda Store (as we’ve outlined above) to represent the project and spread awareness. You can also use our site to sign up to join the Nelda Tree Plantation Program.
So far, we have 28 hard working volunteers signed up for Nelda to help us reach our goals. This is a great start and we hope to have gained even more by our second birthday.
Look out for updates and a blog post explaining all of these changes very soon. I hope you’re as excited as I am!
Remember to stay in touch with us at Nelda by checking back to see what’s new on Nelda's blog. You can also follow us on social media to get regular updates on what we’ve been working on and the incredible progress we’ve made towards planting trees. And of course, please continue to use our #iamNelda hashtag. And as always, feel free to get in touch if there’s anything else you’d like to know – or even just to say hello to us at Project Nelda!
Thank you for celebrating one year of Project Nelda! I can’t wait to show you what we do next.
Ved for you.