Innovator: Varsha Samuel Rajkumar
Vocation: Organic gardener
Location: Dharwad, Karnataka

Most of us, at some point of time in life, have felt a strong desire to get out of the house and spend time amid nature. This desire need not always involve travel but it could be to sit in our balcony and stare at the sky or lie down on the grass in the park or take an early morning stroll. But I wonder what is it that makes us feel calm and at peace when we’re close to nature? Does proximity to nature distances us from negative thoughts? What is the reason that we find ourselves happy when we surrounded by nature? My personal experiences have taught me to believe that nature is home to some special healing energy which is as holy as a newborn child and as pure as a mother’s love.

According to a recent research, spending time amid nature strengthens an individual’s immune system, which is responsible for our mental and physical health. In the last few years, several researchers have proved this connection, and their research is startling. While spending time amid trees and greenery helps improve our mental and physical well-being, staying away from a green environment increases our susceptibility to diseases. And this could be proved by the fact that more often than not mental depression, anxiety, lack of attention span, cancer, diabetes and several other physical and mental diseases are more prevalent in urban areas. For a long time, the effect of a relationship between good health and nature had remained a mystery but, in more recent times, researchers have used modern technologies to discover facts that throw scientific light on this connection or the ill effects of a broken link between the two. Researchers at the University of Illinois have, in fact, found 21 possible reasons that link nature with human health, and have a direct relation with our immunity system. They insist that people who regularly play sports or live amid nature, gain a special kind of educations which moulds their physical and mental happiness.

The story of our next parinda has direct connections with what I’ve said above. As a child, Varsha Samuel Rajkumar was unlike most children. She was a premature baby, and so her body was not as strong as that of other children her age. This is the reason she would spend most of her time indoors. She could not play or be involved in physical activities as much as she wanted, and this affected her mental health. She had started considering herself a weak person, and her self-respect had dropped to its lowest point. This was the time she began to develop a bond with nature.

Varsha would spend long hours among trees and bushes. This gave her the time and opportunity to reflect on herself. She found her hobbies, discovered her skills and used the same to restore her self-respect. In college, she pursued a course in Applied Art and then briefly worked in the field of advertising. However, due to certain unavoidable circumstances, she had to leave her job and get married. Unfortunately, this marriage could never be more than an agreement for her, and she went through a lot of mental trauma in this relationship. Once again, she lost her individuality and her self-respect was at its lowest. At one point of time, the situation got so worse that she had to choose between living a meaningful life or sticking to a bad marital situation. And she decided to break it off. However, there was a big question in front of her. She neither knew what her next step in life would be nor did she know how to restore her self-respect. The mental pressure had started affecting her physical health too.

It was during this phase that Varsha found a source of healing in kitchen gardening. Soon, this hobby turned into her passion and today, apart from being in a meaningful and encouraging relationship, she is also a well-known and much respected individual among the organic kitchen gardening fraternity. Once again, nature had helped restore her self-esteem and begun to lead her towards good health.

Through the medium of blogs and photography, Varsha now not only shares her knowledge about organic gardening but also encourages people to grow their own food. To express her gratitude towards nature, Varsha is now trying to connect more and more youngsters with nature, thereby allowing them to learn from nature. In an effort towards the same, Varsha has associated herself with an alternate educational institute where she facilitates students in soft skills. The USP of her “class” is that the children spend more time outdoors than within the four walls of a classroom. For Varsha, anything under the sky is a classroom. So by encouraging the children to spend time amid nature, she is teaching children the art of living.

This is the story of Varsha who values the gifts of nature and is, therefore, expressing her gratitude towards it.

As I conclude this story, I would want to leave behind a few questions. How many of us are even trying to look at these natural gifts, let alone learn from them? How many of us are grateful for nature’s love? How many of us are ensuring that our children have the opportunity to build a bond with nature and feel it? These are just some random questions I have in my mind. You need not give me an answer. But you should find the answers for yourself. That’s the hope I have for all of you.

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