Tarumitra: Friends of the Trees
Patna, Bihar, India
Tarumitra is an NGO based in Patna, Bihar that focuses on promoting ecological awareness. It started in 1988, when students set in motion the Forum for Environment, which evolved into Tarumitra. Located in a twelve-acre forest planted by the students, this biodiversity hotspot is home to over 450 varieties of trees and plants native to the Ganges plain. A genetic nursery, students have taken nearly 40,000 heritage saplings and rare plants to propagate in their home areas.
Tarumitra has joined hands with similar organizations to set up bio-reserves like the one in Patna in other parts of India, and similar initiatives have begun in Gujarat, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala. They also take part in international summits on environment. In 2005, Tarumitra received Special Consultative Status (ECOSOC) from the United Nations.
Tarumitra welcomes interns from many universities in India and abroad to work with the school children who participate in their ecological programs. Interns have come from 23 of the 29 states of India, as well as from the United States, Belgium, Zambia, Germany, Switzerland, Honduras, Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, El Salvador, Columbia, Guatemala, and Bolivia. They can take short or long assignments in environmental education, organic farming, advocacy, environmental campaigns, and social-media networking. The University of Zamorano in Honduras, for example, sends interns for up to six months.
Tarumitra interns work on a variety of special projects, such as:
- Setting up workshops on the theme of Earth-building, which often involves engaging with both scientific and eco-spirituality initiatives.
- Community outreach to 200+ high schools in Patna for their students to come for an eco-exposure program inside the bio-reserve.
- Ecological regeneration by restoring the ecological balance in local communities. This is done by interacting with neighbourhoods to clean up their environment as well as to organize ecological outreach programs. For example, they developed garbage dumps into roadside gardens maintained by schools or plant nurseries.
- The bio-reserve has almost a hectare of organic cultivation for rice, pulses and vegetables, which is maintained by high school and university students who learn by doing sustainable, natural, and heritage farming practices.
- While there are limited art installations, artists recognize the entire bio-reserve to be an integral and organic expression of nature art.
- Tarumitra has been organizing Big History workshops regularly since 2005 with teachers and students. Director Robert Athickal is an active member of the Indian Association for Big History and the Asian Big History Association, and is a founding member of the Multiverse Narrative Network.
The Tarumitra campus has accommodation for 50 students at a time, including private rooms for interns working with visiting students. A dining facility provides fresh food to residents. A 400-bed hospital is close by with which Tarumitra has a healthcare agreement. The railway station is eight-kilometers away and the airport five-kilometers. In this way, Tarumitra is a very accessible and centrally located.
Photographs from Tarumitra.