Umesh is a freelance writer contributing his creative writings on varied subjects in various sites and portals in the internet.
Some time back, I wrote a hub containing the story of a playground cum park near my residence in Navi Mumbai area in India. It was about the revival of a neglected playground cum park by some of the volunteers in the area. Let me give some background information on this matter. About 4-5 years back that was an open park which was not maintained by the civic authorities and was not in a good shape and had a lot of bushes and wild plants. Some local citizens mainly senior citizens approached the civic authorities and they provided fencing around it and made a walking path along its periphery. About 30 numbers of cement benches were also provided along with the fencing for the visitors to sit and relax there if they so desired. As no regular maintenance crew was allotted to the park it remained unattended for cleaning etc and at that point of time some like-minded citizens of the area especially some senior citizens took this challenge and spent a few hours in the morning time and did all sort of works in the park, like making flower beds in the sides and planting flower plants and other plants along the sides and along the periphery of the park, watering the plants, cleaning the park periodically by removing leaves and twigs which accumulated on the ground, and other misc works.
The citizens were happy from the progress made and then they thought why not to contribute some money and put granite on the cement benches so that it becomes nice to sit and will also attract more people to it.
So, a call for raising money for the granite topping job was made in the local WhatsApp groups and contrary to the expectations the response was very positive and overwhelming and within a few weeks the required funds were raised and all the benches were topped with grey and white coloured granite slabs.
Everything worked well and footfall in the park increased significantly. The volunteers continued their good work in the park and enjoyed the company of each other especially during the morning time. The author was also one among them and is taking the privilege of bringing this volunteer work in the notice of the readers' community across the globe.
It would be worthwhile to mention that we also had once a week tea and snacks session in a nearby tea stall after completing our volunteering work and most of us enjoyed that as part of our morning rituals. Occasionally, we visited the park in the evening time also and got the appreciation of the evening walkers about our contribution to the park which we most humbly accepted and remained happy in our own ways.
Life was good and we were going through a sense of satisfaction from this environmental and social outlook that kept us busy in creative and constructive ways.
Adding more facilities in the park
At that time, about at the beginning of 2020, we were informed by the local administration that this plot of land was earmarked for a playground and they are going to install some gym equipment in one corner of that big field. This was a piece of very encouraging news for all of us and we were really excited with it as it would attract the nearby residents for doing gym activities using such free facility provided by the local administration. Within 10-15 days, the equipment was installed and there was a variety of the exercise equipment which were now made available in one corner for the benefit of the local residents.
As soon as the local residents knew about this facility the children, women, and many men from the nearby housing complexes started to come to use it, especially in the morning time. The open gym added great value to the playground.
The disaster stuck - corona virus threat
That was the time (about February-March 2020) when Covid-19 started spreading in the area and as per the instruction received from the local administration, we all stopped going to the park as subsequently lockdown was also imposed in the town. It was a very difficult situation and only some essential services were allowed to be operated in the town market and that also people have to stand in a queue standing at least a meter far from each other with a mask worn on their faces.
It was a great blow to the spirits and enthusiasm of the volunteer citizens who were contributing to make the park the best place in the area for the playing of the children as well as for the walking of all the residents staying nearby.
Then for a few months, we had so many lockdowns and some time with a partial lifting of lockdowns and the park once again went neglected and grass etc started to grow in its usual place. A few more months passed like that and the rainy season arrived in July 2020. After 2 months of rains, the grass in the park was about the waist and the flower beds and other places were full of tree leaves and tree branches which fell down and when we saw it from outside we became much disheartened as how and when this would be brought back to its old glory.
Corona appeared subduing
At the beginning of the month of November 2020, it appeared that corona cases are now considerably decreased much in this part of the country and we started to go out with wearing the mask and following social distancing. The volunteers started to think and contemplate ways to restart the volunteering activities in the park so that their passion for that work gets satisfied. That activity was a part and parcel of their lives and living without that was an unthinkable proposition.
The renewed spirit
Some citizens who were instrumental earlier in the upkeep of the park discussed the matter and decided that the time has come when they should start some volunteer work in the park so that slowly it could be cleaned and cleared of so much wild growth everywhere. The main problem was the central area of the park where a lot of stubborn grass bushes had grown thickly and it was tough to dislodge them manually.
The matter was intimated to the civic authorities which were doing post-rain clearing in many areas and they sent their crew to cut the grass and make the park clear so that people can enter it without fear of snakes etc which generally hide in thick grass and are dangerous for the people not aware about this.
The clearing of the grass and trimming of tree branches gave a much-needed boost to the volunteers to make a strategy for cleaning and other plant care jobs which were urgently required in the side beds where earlier flower plants were planted as most of them were in a bad shape.
Regaining old glory
So, with renewed vigour and encouragement the volunteers accelerated their physical contributions in the park and took up the activities of loosening the soil around the flower plants, making the beds properly for watering the plant, shifting some of the plants from crowded beds to other places in the playground and it took almost 20-25 days for bringing it to almost the earlier shape and elegance that it had in pre-Covid times. Sustained hard work is the key to progress and this incident has shown it in a very clear way.
I have taken recently some photos of the park to showcase that improvement and now sharing them with the readers and surfers on the web which often visit this site.
Update - March 2021
A lot of work has been done by the volunteers in the meanwhile and as corona threat appeared to be relatively subdued, people started to come to the park in morning and evening. We had put some posters in the park mentioning that to wear mask is an essential thing in this situation and thankfully people are observing that. A few days back, I saw some young people playing cricket in the afternoon time and I could not stop myself to take a snap and add to this hub. The picture is taken from one end of the park and some nearby housing societies are in the background. So, hopefully once corona is well contained, we may have more footfall in the park.
People enjoying cricket
It is true that the spirit of volunteering never dies and that is the main thing which decides the success of a volunteering task. Being attached to this volunteering group for quite some time I felt that I must share this experience with a wide and larger readers' community.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Umesh Chandra Bhatt
Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 25, 2020:
Brenda, Manatita, and Sangre thanks to all of you for your visit and lovely comments.
Sp Greaney from Ireland on December 23, 2020:
That's a great community of people. I love how everyone worked together as a team to bring it back up to the standard it was before Covid It is nice that you all have somewhere to go to relax.
manatita44 from london on December 23, 2020:
Volunteers, Bhattuc? This looks like an incredible labour of Love. Amazing! God wants us to be a family and it shows that when we are in harmony with an idea, the great things that can be done.
You also seem to be saying that the corona thing is settling down, at least in your area. My prayers to you and loved ones. Om Shanti!
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on December 22, 2020:
It is great when a community works together. The pictures are great. It looks like a wonderful place to go take a break.
Hopefully this Covid-19 will disappear soon or at least the vaccine will help.
We have been on lockdown also and then things seem better only to get worse again.
Currently we are under curfew from 10 pm until 5 am, but these measures do not seem to be working. It only closes business down early with the virus numbers gaining more strength.
I enjoyed the read and I hope you get to enjoy it some more.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 22, 2020:
Flourish, thanks a lot.
FlourishAnyway from USA on December 22, 2020:
This was a great story of community achievement and camaraderie. The area looks nice and you all should be proud of your accomplishments.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 21, 2020:
Chitrangada, Peggy, Ruby Jean, AliciaC and Divya - thanks to you all for your visit and nice comments. It is a great appreciation and encouragement for me.
Merry Christmas and Happy new year. God bless you all.
Divya Sharma from India on December 20, 2020:
Great job volunteers god bless them.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 20, 2020:
This sounds like a very worthy project. You and your companions have done a great job.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 20, 2020:
Your article is a splendid example of what people can do to help the community they live in. Well done. The pictures are nice.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 20, 2020:
You and your fellow volunteers have achieved much in the creation and maintenance of this park. We have similar spaces in our area, where it is mainly due to volunteer work that the parks and even community gardens are maintained. Congratulations!
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 20, 2020:
Very well written article. It's so good to see this green space, which you and your friends have worked hard and maintained.
Community spirit well defined. We, as citizens also have a role to play in beautifying our surroundings. Everything should not be left to the govt. authorities.
Hope many others are inspired by this.
Thank you for sharing.