Water is the most important natural resource on our planet and is essential for the well-being and survival of all life. When water sources are polluted, it affects everything from the health of the people who drink it to entire ecosystems around the rivers.
Ayo Oum Shanti experienced first-hand how the Ganges River pollution in India affected the community. With her experience working in a cancer research center, it was clear that a lot could be done to improve the water quality of rivers worldwide with shared information and collaboration with experts and organizations.
In April 2022, Shanti and a couple of other individuals met to lay the foundation for the River Project-Ma Ganga. Their mission is “to build an open access resource and global hub for building collaborative communities, with a primary focus on the Ganges River in India, while in support of community-driven river restoration and water management worldwide.”
In November 2022, River Project-Ma Ganga successfully organized a meet-up in New York City to gather like-minded individuals who are passionate about water restoration. This also led to a connection with a CUNY professor and his students at Hunter College.
From November 2022 to January 2023, Shanti traveled to India to research local river restoration and connect with community projects. She was also able to teach at several schools and health & wellness centers and conduct interviews with local families about water issues. Armed with new information, Shanti returned to the States with more connections and ideas on how to expand the organization’s work.
“One of our key achievements has been the establishment of monthly virtual global hub meetings,” says Shanti. “These meetings provide an open space for discussions, ideas, and the sharing of resources. We strongly believe that collaboration and knowledge-sharing are vital in addressing the challenges faced by rivers worldwide.”
World Water Hub has lots of plans for the future. Besides the virtual meetings, they have plans for an annual symposium to bring together experts and raise funds. They also want to work closely with local groups and help supply volunteers and financial resources to speed up their efforts.
“In addition, we are excited to develop a meaningful presence at the United Nations’ World Water Day in New York City. We will share educational materials on water and river restoration, support the UN’s mission of environmental stewardship, and invite attendees to join our global community.”
Right now, the biggest challenge facing River Project-Ma Ganga is securing fiscal sponsorship for the organization in order to expand its work. Their desire is to restore rivers not just in India, but around the world.