25 June 2017, Barshi, India
It counts 30 registered households and about 160 people in total but the Barshi Bohra community packed a punch above its weight in fulfilling its allotted quota of tree planting – and then some.
The town, whose Bohra inhabitants trace their roots back 100 years, lies in the Solapur district a little distance from Pune City in the western India state of Maharashtra. With businesses including hardware, glass and plywood supply many of the Bohras are established traders in the town.
The community was in possession of a plot of land bought some time ago with plans for a community centre or madrasah but which lay unused and a bit neglected.
That was until this Ramadhan (1438/2017) when Syedna’s TUS directive to plant 200,000 trees around the world allotted them with 48 trees to plant. The initiative was taken up by a Dawat civil servant delegated to conduct Ramadhan prayers there this year. His regular role is as an administrator at the mausoleum in Burhanpur and thus he brought a wealth of landscaping and agricultural know how to bear on the project plus his own infectious enthusiasm. This lead to the community surpassing their allotment – over 3 times more at the last count.
The plot of land has had trees planted either side in a replication of Taherabad’s Mohammediyah Street.
Launching the program locally required a bit of innovation and in order to grab the attention the first thing the priest did was to conduct the daily sermon with plant pots arranged either side of him as he delivered it.
Then, in a nice little positive twist on a campaign slogan, the community laid down the mantra – ‘Each one plant one’ – by which each house was allocated a given number of trees from the 48 officially designated.
A figure of rupees was fixed as a unit contribution and individual households took 1, 2 or more of these units as their participation. The final figure reached was well in excess of initial hopes.
Monies were put to use immediately resulting in a clearing of the plot for a sports playground, 160 trees and 118 smaller plants sown and plans for a badminton court and permanent lounging chairs in the pipeline.
Word of the transformation of this neglected plot spread quickly after reaching the media. This lead to other Barshi residents not only applauding the Bohras but inspired to emulate them. If just 160 of you can do this much then how much more imperative is it upon us who are in the thousands?
As a result the schools in the area have been allotted to families in groups of five families in order to bring about a similar environmentally friendly transformation.