Vibhishita would like to introduce Kalpana Ramesh, an interior designer, architect, turned water conservation champion driving the ‘Live the Lakes’ a SAHE initiative in Hyderabad. She is a woman of many talents and we would all benefit to hear her motivating and heart warming story.
As part of “Live the Lakes” program, Kalpana and her team hope to create awareness about the importance of lakes, increase civic responsibility and return the lakes to their former glory. She got involved with spreading awareness of water conservation and rainwater harvesting in schools, residential complexes, and the community at large. Between the months of May 2016 to July 2016 alone, right before the start of the monsoons, she got more than 200 families to revive their defunct bore wells through a simple DIY schematic.
The Save10KBores initiative led by Kalpana helped in realizing the importance of water conservation. Hyderabad is a city that is blessed with lakes, several of which are dying a slow death due to pollution and contamination. While working on the bore wells, Kalpana realized the importance of the water bodies and made up her mind to revive them. She went about speaking, cajoling, educating people and her initiative soon took shape in the form of the 'Live the Lakes' initiative. With the support of NGOs, Government offices, conservationists, architects, students, volunteers, professors and the general public, Kalpana hopes to revive 62 lakes around Serilingampally. She and her team talk to the community near the lake and urge them to adopt it. Sessions on awareness, long term sustainability and inclusiveness are conducted frequently.
1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? I am a 47 yr old, Interior and Furniture Designer with an Architectural background. I live and work in Hyderabad. I have always been interested in colors, spaces and nature and designing has been my strength. I am a spontaneous person and don’t plan anything ahead. I rise up to challenges and strive to grow organically. I am known for my sincerity, perseverance and a never give up attitude. I am always positive even in a very dead end situation. I imbibe this from my mother. I am an avid Terrace gardener and organic vegetable grower, Vedanta student, and a hardcore water conservationist. I am an activist for Live the Lakes. I am constantly on the lookout for learning something new and challenge myself to doing something I have never done before. 2. How did you get started with your activism?
I have always tried to be mindful of the environment, but the TEDx Hyderabad Salon event on Civic Responsibility in April 2016 was a turning point. The session on water conservation hit a cord and I got involved with the Save10KBores – an initiative to revive defunct bore wells across the city of Hyderabad. Our effort is to not only to conduct clean-up, awareness and plantation drives, but also have engaged a group of planners and architect researchers to come up with a holistic development plan for the lakes, including cheaper and efficient methods of sewage treatment through natural and organic methods and send this treated water to the lake. 3. How much time and effort do you devote?
I devote on an average at least of 2 hrs everyday in the mornings and evenings to various activities related to Live the Lakes. Sometimes we need to prepare for a lake clean up drive and at times I also need to get people together for tree planting drives. As part of this initiative I need to meet a number of people for planning and executing various programs. 4. What are the personal benefits or enrichment you have experienced through the work you do?
I derive immense satisfaction from pure service. I believe, pure service is pure Joy. I am just evolving more meaningfully, as a person. Instead of leading a selfish life, absorbed in my own world, volunteering and being rooted to a cause makes me feel like I am thinking and working towards larger responsibilities. 5. As a woman what are some of the biggest challenges you have faced? I never really faced any instances of bias because I am a woman. I am generally very positive, so I don’t focus on gender and discrimination. 6. Is there any advice you would like to give women who would be interested in making a difference to the society around them? I would say as women we tend to focus on our home and family duties, and do what permits in our spare time, till our kids are grown up. In my case, only after my kids were in college, I got actively involved in Social work. But once you take up any social work, persevere and be true to the cause, don’t give up. Always keep on learning something new and spread your wings, it helps you get out of a fixed mindset. It is good to challenge yourself, you will be surprised by what your true potential is.