A word from Glastonbury as the adventure begins

The Bhopal Medical Appeal has finally arrived at Glastonbury! The marquee is up, the tents are pitched, and as I write this, hundreds of recycled plastic bag marigolds are being fluffed and puffed in preparation for the construction of our Bhopali Sculpture Garden and recycled art workshops. A big thanks to all who attended the workshops in Brighton and especially to Mr Cooper and the children at St Luke’s School for all their hard work in the preparation of hundreds of plastic bags and bottles for us to use in the garden. We can’t wait  to see the final display.

Colin (a volunteer litterpicker) fluffs up the plastic bag flowers

It looks promising so far and we hope to create a beautiful space for creative inspiration and enlightening discussion about the current issues in Bhopal, and exactly why Dow should clean up the environmental catastrophe that is the legacy of the Union Carbide factory. Over the next week we hope to attract a range of festival-goers to our colourful Indian tent, where they can pitch in with art workshops run by Holly, the creative genius behind this project.

We have a cosy cushioned corner for chai and chat, for cost-free relaxation between checking out your favourite bands and queuing for the loos. We don’t want to reveal too much just yet but I think we are all fairly excited about the finished sculpture garden and can safely say it will be a hotspot of colour, inspiration and creativity right in the middle of the Leftfield. We will also be distributing our homemade, non-toxic all natural hand sanitiser to grubby festival-goers, and our litterpickers are on site as we speak, ready to tackle the huge amounts of trash that are generated every year.

It appears that political activism will be more evident than ever at this year’s Glastonbury. In an article in yesterday’s Observer, Michael Eavis, described Glastonbury as “a sounding board of political discontent” and general opinion appears to be that government cuts in the UK are encouraging people to be increasingly politically active. The article goes on to detail Glastonbury’s refusal to engage in corporate sponsorship and its history of featuring green politics as a big component of the festival. This is perfect synchronicity with the Bhopal Medical Appeal’s overriding principles and ideals, and we are very excited to have the people of Bhopal and the Bhopal Medical Appeal represented here at Glastonbury. One of the foremost demands of the survivors is exemplary punishment of corporations and their officials.

The build up to Glastonbury has been epic with months of preparation, planning and creative input from the team in Brighton. It all felt a little surreal as we pulled up in an empty field yesterday after a two-day journey from Brighton to Worthy Farm. We reckon we could have driven to Turkey quicker, and by the time the collecting, carrying, packing, rearranging, unpacking and repacking had taken place, we’d finally loaded the last three people into the van and hit the road most of us felt like the work was almost over. An overnight stop at Annie (one

Becky with Charles, one half of our hospitable duo

of the BMA’s office volunteers) parents’ was a welcome break, and I can speak for all of us in saying that the warmth, friendliness and generosity extended to us by them was overwhelming. It is unusual to find two people who are willing to invite eight welly boot-clad adults who they have never met into their home, and truly treat them as part of the family, and we are all very very thankful to Catherine and Charles for their wonderful hospitality on Saturday night.

Yet again it appears that Michael Eavis and co have created a phenomenal event with an excellent mix of live music, political activism and interactive entertainment for the 250,000 people that will visit Glastonbury this year. The effort, manpower and organisation that goes into planning and executing such a huge event is staggering as I’m sure the 20,000 site managers and crew who are squelching around digging trenches, wielding mallets and tent pegs will agree.

Pennards Hill campsite wont look like this for long!

From this muddy field in Somerset it may feel like the bulk of the work is done but the fact is, it is only just beginning. By being here at Glastonbury we are hoping to raise awareness of the people in Bhopal who are continuing to suffer as a result of environmental contamination and destruction in the name of corporate greed . Rather than do it filled with anger and hatred we will be here at Glastonbury spreading the word through art, fun and positivity.

We are looking forward to keeping you updated with more video clips, photos and blogs over the next week. If you happen to be heading to Glastonbury in the next few days pop into the Leftfield and join in with our brilliant workshops. You’ll find us conveniently located beside the main Leftfield tent and the Hare Krishnas. Oh, and a word of advice from us: do not forget your wellies!

Don't forget your wellies!

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We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.