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Unsung Warrior Works Tirelessly For The Greens

Shalini Singh | Navi Mumbai

“During the pandemic, COVID patients and their families were willing to pay lakhs of rupees to buy oxygen to survive. Even then, no one realised the importance of plants that constantly release oxygen, necessary for human survival,” says nature lover and Environment Life founder Dharmesh Barai. It’s no secret that the COVID-19 crisis jolted humans out of their long-drawn slumber. There were ‘unsung’ warriors who rose up to the occasion risking their lives to help the community at large. Yet, in all this, a rare few thought of plants left completely unattended during the pandemic.

GREEN WARRIOR: Dharmesh Barai ensured as many plants as possible were watered during the lockdown in his area
A week after the national lockdown, it was during Dharmesh Barai’s first trip to a local grocery store to stock up on groceries that he noticed a withered plant a short distance from his home, and then, many more along the way. “The shops were shut and ‘potted plants’ outside shops or along the roads were left back in the worst condition. Also, plants outside or within residential and commercial complexes were not been attended to and were drying out. So, I started watering them,” says Dharmesh.

He thought he could do his bit and made it his goal to ensure as many plants as possible were watered. “I would request locals, even watchmen to water plants in their area. I could have done it all myself but I wanted to involve the locals.”

The pandemic led to the lockdown in the country that put life on a standstill making man appreciate nature and life, all over again. Dharmesh also started helping people through WhatsApp and other social media platforms to maintain indoor and outdoor plants in areas around their homes. “Most people are clueless about maintaining plants and rely on gardeners. The lockdown changed that.”

DOING HIS BIT: Dharmesh also offered guidance to people to maintain indoor and outdoor plants
Dharmesh also started ‘Free Plant Maintenance’ to help people in need. “I am an ordinary citizen and cannot make large monetary donations. But I realised I can help in my limited capacity to maintain and improve natural oxygen levels in the area by ensuring plants are taken care of. It’s a small step but has a huge impact in the environment. I was regularly posting tips on social media on how to take care of plants and trying to create awareness at my end.” 

Dharmesh, who has more than 150 varieties of plants at home, some needing immense care and maintenance, learnt about plants maintenance through practice. “I want more people to know now.”
Dharmesh’s wife and optometrist Trupti Barai supported her husband in every possible way. “She happily sacrificed our ‘together time’ as on weekends I would be busy doing all this. Till today, more than 500 people have got in touch with me for tips on maintaining plants. I connected many to local nurseries too.”

SUPPORTIVE: Dharmesh's wife Trupti Barai has supported him during all his initiatives
Watering plants is the last noble cause. It’s the last thing on people’s minds, especially during a crisis that hit the nation recently. “Even if one person in a building or a society takes responsibility of watering and taking care of plants, it will make a big difference,” says Dharmesh Barai with a rare pride for humans and unflinching hope for the future.

This story is part of #TheUnsungProject series. 'Unsung - The Film' captures the selfless dedication of those Indians whose contributions during COVID-19 times, would otherwise go ... unsung. The film was created by DraftCraft Films in conjunction with The Draft. Team Unsung spread across 20 States, 5 Union Territories and over 100 Cities and Villages in India, to document stories of hope, hard work and dedication of thousands, in the time of COVID-19. Watch the film here.

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