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Want to Meet a Man Who is Restoring a River? #WATWB

positive stories

We are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) focuses on positive stories no matter where they’re found. It is all about spreading peace and humanity on social media.

In the spirit of WATWB, In darkness be the light, today’s story is about Afroz Shah, who has taken it upon himself to rid his city, Mumbai, of garbage and plastic, and to clean up the waters in and around it. If you know anything about this metropolis of skyscrapers, slums and sewers populated by 20 million people, you’ll know what a gargantuan task that is.

positive stories“the people he unites with to fix the country’s seemingly insurmountable problem of garbage are mostly students. “I love talking to people who are between 8-21 years old. I see fire in their eyes. Adults want to be inspired, we hear a talk, we say ‘Wow! Great!’ and it ends there,” says Shah.

He gets exasperated when, like your average annoying adult, I ask him for solutions to our couldn’t-care-less attitude about garbage. “Your assumption is that there is a solution. After working for four years, I’m not under any illusion that there is any solution,” he says, adding that the only thing we can do is to start our own personal journeys. “If a solution comes, so be it. If not, we still have to do our duty.”

Read this remarkable gentleman’s entire story HERE.

If you think one individual can’t make a difference, here’s Afroz Shah to prove you wrong. In a world filled with indifferent manufacturers and users of plastic packaging, of blasé governments who don’t care how much non-biodegradable plastic they produce and dump on other countries, positive stories of initiative and courage from people like Afroz Shah give me hope.

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This post was the 24th installment of the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday oWe Are the World Blogfest Writing by handf each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

The co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa Garg, Simon Falk, Mary Giese, Dan Antion and yours truly.

Here’s a sampler of this blogfest. Click here to know more. Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of June 28, 2019!


What positive stories have you come across of individuals making a difference? Do you know what happens to the plastic you see around you? Is plastic recycling a thing where you live? How much of the plastic is actually recycled? 


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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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18 Comments

  • On a much smaller scale I have been doing the same in our small town for the last 20 yrs. There is a pretty creek that once supported trout and other wildlife, but was relegated to a concrete drainage ditch decades ago. I formed a Friends of the Creek group and they have been removing trash etc. all these years. Finally we convinced the city to let us take in out of concrete and return it to its natural riparian habitat. That will take years yet to get permits etc. but we have raised funds and hired a bioengineer who is modeling the hydrology and creating a plan. 🙂

  • Library Staff says:

    I love articles like this. Definitely one to share.

  • Sha'Tara says:

    Quote: ““If a solution comes, so be it. If not, we still have to do our duty.” Sums it up very well. That is how it should be.

  • Wonderful job, inspiring personality .

  • Peter Nena says:

    Anyone who cares for the environment cares for the whole world. Mr. Shah is a lifesaver, a hero.

  • Christy B says:

    It really is wonderful to see such selfless beings in this world. With so many negative headlines, it’s good to read a positive one! Thanks Damyanti for highlighting him here.

  • We need more men and women with that kind of commitment to better society. Plastic is destroying sea creatures and land too as it is buried in land fills. Our way of life is eventually going to kill off the human race too unless we all wake up and do something about it.

  • Susan Scott says:

    I’ve read before about Shah’s A M A Z I N G initiative Damyanti! Cleaning up the river in Mumbai even though it will take 5 years. Just do it is his message … and great that donors by way of boats and trucks from businesses have come to his aid. Thank you for highlighting this story! and for co-hosting –

  • Pam Lazos says:

    Yay for Afroz! That takes a special soul to not think there is a solution and keep at it anyway. Thanks for sharing his story, Damyanti. :0)

  • Jennie says:

    Wonderful!

  • Mick Canning says:

    I have heard of this gentleman. Truly inspirational!

  • Positive news once in a way!! Such a cool thing to spread. Love the initiative!!

  • Unishta says:

    Commendable indeed ! Our city has finally woken up to the problem of plastic and has now started fining both the buyer and seller of any product in the Municipal markets that is packaged /carried in a non- biodegradable bag. We all now carry cloth bags to avoid the fine which is Rs 5000/offending bag.

  • Widdershins says:

    He’s right in that you can’t get people to change their minds, no matter how compelling your arguments are or how solid your science is,, if they do not want to change. The best thing is to do is leave them to it and get on with doing your own thing. 🙂

  • One person can make a difference. It sounds like he is inspiring a lot of young people and they will continue the tradition of trying to clean up the garbage.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – isn’t it so true … the words you’ve used/ he’s used: ” the only thing we can do is to start our own personal journeys. “If a solution comes, so be it. If not, we still have to do our duty.””

    We have to start what we believe … others will follow, help will come, we will help others along the way … we just need to start. Brilliant link across … I’m going to send this to an Indian friend who lives in America now, but is over in Mumbai for a little while longer – she’ll be interested … and her father and friends are still there.

    Amazing chap – Afroz Shah … really awe inspiring to read … thanks so much for letting us know about him – good luck to him and his volunteers and the Mithi River – all the best Hilary

  • Huw Boyt says:

    This is a great story. It reminds me of the danger of becoming paralysed by trying to work up too detailed and perfect a plan before you start. It’s a thing I am having with our Parish council where I am struggling with experienced people who have grand and detailed processes based on good experience but which, I fear, will give ammunition to the doubters (why it won’t work) and the deniers (we don’t need anything this comprehensive) and reveals (too early?) the level of work and commitment required. My gut feel is to travel fast and light, focusing on engagement and to develop as you go in response to what comes up. I now have some good thoughts bubbling up on how to keep the process stripped down and speedy but not shallow and perfunctory. Thanks.

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