We work with many partners in many places, but none are any more inspiring than the Sankat Mochan Foundation in Varanasi, India.

Varanasi is India’s holiest city, the place where pilgrims arrive from across the subcontinent to bathe in the waters of the Ganges. The great ghats, or stone steps, descending to the river are one of the most gripping sights I’ve ever seen; this is truly a timeless and eternal place.

But in recent times the Ganges has grown dirtier and dirtier, with untreated sewage sending bacteria counts through the roof. So the Sankat Mochan, led by Dr. V B Mishra (Mahantji), has waged a quarter-century battle to force local governments to clean the water. Mahantji is a remarkable man, both engineer and spiritual leader; he and his team have worked with patient persistence and focus, and been recognized for their work by everyone from Sonia Gandhi to Bill Clinton. It’s the kind of head-heart combination that resonates so strongly with us at 350.org.  And this time last year they won their greatest victory, when the government agreed to fund their plan.

But because they recognize that we can’t save particular spots if the whole planet is being damaged, the Foundation has agreed to be a 350 ally. They held a public meeting for us to spread the news last night, and on October 24 we expect one of the greatest images of the entire day to come from this ancient and entrancing city. So many thanks to Sankat Mochan!

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