Bhuvanesh Ojha, a tender kid with love for nature in his heart and a dream to grow a forest in his eyes who is now known to be one of the most active environmentalist in India. An IIT aspirant whose soul always remained attached to the his roots and never got detached.
He has established “PUKAAR Foundation” which is now a well recognized Non-profit organization at pan India level . He started his journey with a few kids from his locality to now becoming an organisation with thousands of people attached to it, on every turn he held the hand of nature and remained stubborn for his goal throughout his journey.
He has faced so many challenges ranging from social to financial to even personal problems but he faced everything and never gave up on his love for nature and that is why his story is a “Stubborn Story” .
So come lets listen to the tale of this “Tree Man” and his nature derived wisdom…….
I was born in Udaipur, Rajasthan and I come from a very noble family, my mother is government teacher and my father is a government servant working in the mining department. Fortunately due to his transfer from Udaipur to Bhilwara district I was able to spend initial years of my life in my native village.
I belong to a small village named Peeplund in the Bhilwara district of Rajasthan. I spent initial 7-8 years of my life there. In villages we are so close to nature, that we feel a sense of oneness with our surroundings. As a child I used to spend hours playing around an old Banyan Tree and diving in the pond near our village.
When I was about five years old, whole district of Bhilwara was facing an acute shortage of water, due to which a lot of farmers faced immense losses. Unfortunately or fortunately, I experienced the plight of our farmers at a young age, I saw news about them committing suicides, going under tremendous debts and even doing burglaries for survival.
On the other hand elders used to tell me that “There was a forest right here but it is just barren land now” they used to say that at their times there were almost no burglaries and they all lived like a big family. My kiddish heart believed that all prosperity is brought by forests, then I decided that I want to grow forest ,as if forests are there than rain will come, crops will be good and if crops are good a farmer will not have to suicide, that is where seeds of “PUKAAR” were sown.
Then when I was young, It was common to have suicidal thought (with laughs), I started getting frustrated for becoming a successful person, that time a younger cousin of mine said “छोटू भैया अगर तू मर जायेगा तो यहाँ जंगल कौन उगाएगा ?”. that sentence was so powerful that even today when I feel bad this sentence charges me up.
When I used to ask elders, they told me that for doing this so called “Seva” I will need a lot of money so , as I was good at studies , so I went to kota for IIT Preparation in 2011. There I started reading books by big entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Tim Robbins, Rashmi Bansal etc. One thing I found from these stories that all these people said that “If you die tomorrow then what about your dreams”, so I understood that I will have to do something towards my goal.
Colony Boy to PUKAARWALA...
After 12th in 2013, I took a whole year drop, to make certain that this is what I wanted to do. I decided that I will start with my own surroundings. On March 10, 2013 I planted the first plant ‘Astitva’ , a mango tree in my colony, which I bought by not going to a movie.
In the span of next 8 months, with the help of kids in colony I planted 18 to 20 plants, which we bought sometimes by contribution, sometimes by doing ran errands etc.
Now I had decided that I want to live in Udaipur, and even if I am selected I would not to go away from here. So the next question was that then how will I graduate. I never wanted to do a bachelor in science but my father just told to fill out the application form. Somehow on the last day I filled the form and eventually I was admitted in botany and geology stream , a person who was preparing for B.tech till then now was admitted to a Biology major, this is how life does what It wants to.
I took admission in that college, as I saw that it had open grounds so I can plant more trees here . Unfortunately I saw that in any institution the main aim of any work is lost and politics overshadowed everything. So I decided not to do any plantations in the college.
On the other hand , I was planting 3-4 plants every 2-3 days. In August 2013, My friends also started to join me, we used to plant trees on Sunday, and maintained them in week days. The children with me used to quit playing video games or watching T.V. to come and help plant trees.
Parents used to say that “what magic have you done on kids, that they even leave video games to come and plant trees with you”. I said “ Our earth is our mother, and no video game can keep a son away from his mother.”
I started posting these things on social media and people used to ask that how can we join?. So we decided that we will come for 2 hours on every Sunday to plant trees. On 10th november 2013 came our first Sunday morning and since then we have never looked back, today we have completed 287 Sundays.
Till then a group started to build some people regularly came, some new joined every Sunday. I never wanted people see this as “Bhuvnesh’s Group”, I wanted everyone to take this cause as their own. So started to look for a name for this and then we had a 5-6 names we were confused on and PUKAAR was on of them.
I was discussing the names with my sister and somehow on the radio the song “Pukarta chala gaya” and that I saw her she saw me and we felt as of god gave us a sign and that’s how the name PUKAAR was chosen.
PUKAAR and Stubbornness ...
I think that this was the phase in which we stood stubborn and so our story became a “Stubborn Story”…
After every 3-4 months there used to come a phase when we ran out of finances, equipment and other thing. One such phase came and I was like that this is ending now how will we continue? and many more questions were in my mind.
Whenever I feel bad or I am confused I go to the plants that I have planted and ask them for help , I hug them ,talk to them and they always listen to me with love and lead my way.
A man “Pipal Baba” as I call him, he is my guru and a very big environmentalist. I was talking to him generally I didn’t tell him anything about our financial muddle but somehow. he knew. Out of nowhere He said “Bhuvnesh I am sending you some financial contribution so you can plant some more trees”
This just revived me and the whole organisation and since then we have never stopped. Every time there was a phase like this we always got some one who just took us through it.
We started to get public support, when we worked on hot summer days people came asked us, they helped us however they could and these small – small moments is what made what PUKAAR is today.
We went on this way for next three years, ups and downs came we started to get recognition but we moved collecting small memories along the way.
Many people used to suggest me that, you should get PUKAAR registered but I used to see that those organisations which have been registered had party politics and the main aim of those organizations never actually happened.
Eventually in 2016 I decided that we should register PUKAAR, but I wanted this to be an organization in which members feel closer to nature and spare their precious time for planting saplings. I believe “PUKAAR is everyone’s own and everyone is a warrior”
If you have a true and selfless cause then people will never try to get one over you, they will be helpful always. That’s how it works.
Our pride moments ...
Everything goes through three phases 1. Start 2.Struggle 3. Glory, so PUKAAR has now entered the third phase and still we kept our aim first.
In 2016, Lovely Professional University invited us for a presentation among “Top 10 NGO’s of India” where we were given a lot of respect. That moments inspired us a lot and made me more certain that we can do more.
Also in the same year one day, I was contacted by officials, they all were asking about Pukaar’s initiatives and work, I was confused by that but still answered them. One day I got a message that “You are selected for ‘Swachh Rajasthan Award-2016’ in individual category “. At first, I thought someone was trying to fool me but eventually when I was awarded “Swach Rajasthan Award”, it added one more moment of happiness that we could look back to.
We are going on collecting these moments.
What's Next ...
Now we want to go back to our roots, our villages from where this all started is calling for us. Our elders have much more knowledge about our environment and trees than any Wikipedia, so we want to work on the way they did.
We have grown forest in cities but now we want our villages to be full of nature so that our farmers and youth feel empowered. We can help them grow medicinal plants and it can be a very good source of income.
We would also work on soil reincarnation, so that barren land can again be full of joys and native trees.
All in all, we will now go back to our roots
My advice to those starting out ...
I just want to say that stay true, don’t get lured by the limelight, do what your actual motive was.
“If you stay stubborn then god will automatically open ways for you, and whenever you are stuck just remember why you started it”
Always do things as “if you were to die tomorrow, then….”
If you need any type of help then you can reach out to me through my social media handles and also you can call me.
So this was the story of the “Tree Man” , we hope that everyone of us at least does one percent of what Bhuvnesh has done for the our mother Earth. We will be coming back with another “Stubborn Story” soon till then
Stay Home, Stay Safe , Stay Stubborn