Bhoomi Foundation: Acting On The Change They Want To See

Sahave Blog

There’s a campaign initiated by the government of India, aiming to clean up the country.

While the success of the campaign is debatable, there are some like Tejaswi, a 23 year old

IT professional from Hyderabad who literally get their hands dirty to clean up places in the

country. Tejaswi’s Bhoomi Foundation does something that has been unthinkable so far,

they go to bus stops and other public places, and beautify them, after cleaning them up.

Hailing from a middle class Telugu family from Ongole, Tejaswi started the Bhoomi

Foundation on October 15, 2015; on the occasion of Abdul Kalam’s birthday; after realising

that Ongole was the third most underdeveloped town in Andhra Pradesh. “I was inspired by

the Ugly Indian campaign and in a similar way, I got volunteers and started fixing one spot

every weekend,” says Tejaswi, who used to travel 300+ kilometers every weekend from

Hyderabad to Ongole to do it.

The simplicity of their work is what sets them apart. They don’t use much resources and rely

exclusively on voluntary manpower. Most of their volunteers are students who get down and

dirty scrubbing up and cleaning public places.

Much like the Gandhian quote, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight

you, then you win,” it was a difficult path for her as she faced extensive mockery in her initial

days but now, people actively approach her asking if they can volunteer with her. “Now if

someone dumps any trash at any of the places we’ve cleaned, people nearby stop them

from doing it and inform us immediately,” says Tejaswi, whose continued efforts in cleaning

up 82 spots have led to Ongole being declared a ‘Poster Free City’ by the state government.

After Ongole, the organisation has started fixing spots in Hyderabad.

On being noticed, people started coming to them to ask a lot of questions about

volunteering. “I happily answered the questions because I knew they will then go back and

start making tiny changes in their lives as far as cleanliness is concerned,” explains Tejaswi,

adding, “I want to bring a change in people’s minds about cleanliness. If people get the

sense of responsibility towards maintaining the city in a clean way, it will remain clean

forever.”

They plan to do it extensively now, with one spot every weekend. “We are looking for more

volunteers as we want to do it every weekend. We might not be able to make a big impact

but we really want to bring whatever little change we can,” she adds.