The story of how I found “The Green Path” is a story full of amazing coincidences (well – if one believes in coincidences…).
Looking back now it all seems incredible! When I happened to attend the “Green Tea Evening” with environmental activist Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna, founder of the Chipko-movement, I never expected this one evening would have such a fundamental impact on the later course of my life.
I was volunteering for our mentoring NGO We-KIT in Bangalore, when my friend Astha shared the email invite for the event; with the words “Hanna, you would love this!” I was undecided till the day of the event, when my friend Yvonne urged me to attend the program, feeling it could be interesting for an eco-enthusiast like me.
When I reached The Green Path I was impressed by the wise words of the legendary activist Sunderlal Bahuguna who was sharing his experiences. I was also surprised to find such a hub of likeminded people. It was great to see a project where sustainability was taken seriously in every aspect of daily life.
After the program I could meet the founder Mr. H.R. Jayaram for only a short time as there was a long queue of journalists and other people waiting for him. He generously invited me and my colleague to have dinner and visit his organic farm when we are free. I quickly realized that I had not only found a unique place but also met a very special person with an admirable amount of energy and optimism.
Unfortunately my stay in India came to an end soon after and there was no more time to visit The Green Path or to meet with Mr. Jayaram again.
After reaching Germany it so happened, that I was invited to work at the “Biofach” organic trade fair in Nuremberg/ Germany. That is when I remembered that Mr. Jayaram had mentioned that he was planning to attend the fair.
On the second day of the trade fair I suddenly saw Mr. Jayaram passing by my stall together with a group of organic farmers from Karnataka. He was amazed to see me when I called his name in the crowd. We spoke for a few minutes and at the end he said: “Hanna, you have to come and see all the work that we do in India!”
To make the story short:
I was back, volunteering in India, only a few months later!
In fact I landed in Bangalore just before Earth Day 2012 and was able to be part of this big annual event that brings together scientists, activists, celebrities, artists and eco-enthusiasts.
During my time of volunteering at The Green Path, I was part of various projects. One of them was planning the new website and the setting up social media channels for the eco hotel. Me and other volunteers wrote content, selected photos and created a new design along with a professional web designer and social media expert from Bangalore. I also participated in a big balcony / urban farming project during which we planted various decorative and edible plants on balconies and terraces of the hotel. The idea was to make the hotel a truly green place and to inspire more people to try urban farming in their homes.
Visits to the organic farm and the new eco stay in Coorg allowed me to understand the greater vision of Mr. Jayaram more deeply. I was also able to connect with other volunteers from around the world – some of them, like Martina Dugué from France, who has been coming to volunteer at Green Path for many years.
The most inspiring part about staying at the Green Path was connecting with all these people who are passionate about the environment and who are working hard to create a positive change in the world. I was lucky to meet world-famous scientist and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, lead campaigner of Oxfam and famous activist Pushpanath Krishnamurthy, the father of the organic movement Dr. Narayana Reddy to name just a few!
I had breakfast and lunch together with scientists from all over the world and learned about many inspiring projects in India and other places. I guess I have seldom had so many interesting conversations in a short time as I had at the eco hotel.
During this and my second stay later in 2012 Green Path became like a home to me and I greatly value the work that the team along Mr. Jayaram is doing.
I still continue being part of various projects even while I´m in Germany and I´m looking forward to being part of many more of them in the future!
My next visit to India will probably take place this summer…