This Grandmother transforms Delhi’s garbage dump yards into green gardens

Sixty-eight-year-old Renu Gupta is an inspiration to several mothers who go into hibernation as soon as their grown-up children leave their homes. Usually, this phenomenon is called as ‘empty nest syndrome’, a condition in which parents experience depression after their child leaves home for higher studies. 

A person in her early seventies, Renu Gupta has the calibre to transform any dumpyard into a beautiful green park. Without complaining about her age-related ailments, she has made this isolation a chance that can achieve her ambitions which she nurtured in her heart for long. Being a nature lover, she always wanted that the surroundings should be filled with greenery. She never thought that she ran out of space. She gradually turned tiny space pockets in Delhi into lovely green parks near her home. 

She says, “This transformation comes alive right before me is so much fun.” For the last 15 years, she has silently worked towards transforming little pockets of spaces into beautiful green patches near her home in Delhi.

The Nanak Pio Sahib Gurudwara in North Delhi is one of my favourite spots which I visit frequently but the area surrounding it was untidy and not all appealing to the eyes. “I first approached the committee of Gurudwara, and asked if I could clean up the place. Once they gave me the nod, I set out cleaning the area and gradually people saw me cleaning up and putting up plant saplings, they joined me. Soon I had an army of people who were working outside the gurudwara. It appeared as if we were working for on project. There was no stopping her until she got the go-ahead of the committee. Renu set up a mission clean-up with her dependable assistant, her maali (gardener) and company driver. “To work became so much easier with the independent fee I got. We were able to totally convert the region in around five months.

Today, you can visit and the park that has been created looks absolutely beautiful” said Renu. 

Generally, Renu is an example of how you don’t have to take any powerful  role to shift. She says, ” I usually drive around and find out about a certain area that needed to be washed or just sprayed. I’d get there and get the job done. People gradually gather around me and even provide me the assistance before I realized it. So I have been doing all these years..”

“She works terribly hard. When she’s wanted to get everything done, she’s just going to relax until she’s done. Rashi also says that her pandemic has not yet slowed down the coronavirus pandemic. One major reason I get scammed with her occasionally is that she needs her job during the pandemic,” says her daughter Rashi.

Renu has evolved from just cleaning the spaces alone, she has graduated to beautifying the spaces as well by painting the surroundings giving a creative touch. There are different methods that will help you clean and plant Saplings, which you will always see when you look inside Renu’s vehicle. Her vehicle is full of saplings, paints, paint brushes, brooms etc. 

We used freely available products or items which people were willing to donate,” she adds..

The biggest challenge came when there was a storm in Delhi storm which led to a huge tree that fell across. The tree destroyed the nearby area as well. So she set out to beautify it by borrowing a few things from the neighbours there. The neighbours had some home repair work and had some replacement tiles which they willingly gave away. Having a small team and the things which she collected from the neighbours, Renu took on the challenge of improving the area. Today the place has become a beautiful garden. Often, she even in her own money, Renu took on the work of changing the area.

“It looks like a lot of money has gone into all this, but honestly, it all just came together,” she says.

“I do not feel old or weak, ever, only because I have so many things to do,” 

If you wish to make a difference, the only way to go about it is by doing the work. Renu is a stellar example for that. 

(The author is the founder of Powerful Teachers, an organisation working for senior citizens)