On Friday 18th July, in Central London, the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance joined forces with Thames 21, London’s leading Thames waterway charity to sign a very special MoU and to clean up the rubbish-strewn banks of the River Thames.

This unique collaboration saw Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Co-Founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, mobilising dozens of volunteers of all ages who, in searing heat, donned boots and gloves to dig upcountless discarded plastic bags and other waste that had sunk below the muddy surface at the Isle of Dogs.

Swami Ji-4471Pujya Swamiji has made the restoration and protection of the Ganges a major priority along with environmental projects to provide clean water, Eco-friendly toilets and tree planting for the benefit of the people and the habitats along the river.

Pujya Swamiji initiated this Thames clean up to raise awareness that all rivers are sacred as they bring life. “We should all work to keep our rivers clean and revere them as we revere the Ganga, for water is truly life and therefore holy,” said Pujya Swamiji, as he helped the children dig into the muddy banks to retrieve some of the seemingly endless plastic bags.

At the end of the session, Pujya Swamiji and Debbie Matkin, CEO of Thames 21 together signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the bank of the Thames, committing to a future collaborative relationship that would mutually support the goals of both charities to save the Thames and Ganga. “This has been a very good day” said Debbie Matkin, “and we are looking forward to working together with GIWA to raise awareness in the community that there are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved in preserving their rivers”.

Swami Ji-4521Pujya Swamiji and Debbie Matkin also emphasised the importance of not using single use plastic bags which are an environmental threat in both the UK and India.

The Thames clean-up ended with all the volunteers celebrating both the Thames and Ganga and making a commitment to continue to hold regular community clean ups on the banks of the Thames, England’s most iconic river.