While working for Coca-Cola in South America
for 7 years as a plant manager, Colombian-born Aurovilian Margarita
Correa became interested in microbiology, with special emphasis on the
possibility of making high grade compost out of city garbage. In 1997
she came to India, where she began working with Auroville's Pitchandikulam
Bio-Resource Centre, joining Auroville in 1998.
In 1999 she began research into the use of EM ('effective
microorganisms', a range of naturally available, eco-friendly bacteria)
in a variety of environmental and agricultural situations.
In 2001 Margarita took a trip to the Mata Amritanandamayi Math in Kerala,
where, in course of solving a problem the Ashram was having with odiferous
toilets and cow houses, she met Sri Mata Amritanandamayi popularly known
as Amma. Amma'ji gave her the vision of helping India's 700 million
small-scale farmers as well as doing other important environmental work,
and from that time Margarita has never looked back.
Potential of major transformative effect
To quote Margarita, "EM is a tool with widespread
potential applications. It could have a major transformative effect
here in India, where adequate solid and liquid waste treatment facilities
are often lacking, and there is widespread pollution (India is the world's
largest producer of basic chemical pesticides, and 6th in the users'
league), though its use is naturally being resisted by certain industries
with vested interests, such as pesticide manufacturers."
Dynamic EM ambassador
As awareness of EM and its tremendous potential
grows, Margarita - whose work is being supported by international backers
like the UN's Environmental Programme, the Food and Agricultural Organisation
(FAO), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), BAIF (an Indian NGO concerned
with agricultural issues) and the International Federation of Organic
Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), and spiritually through her association
with M.A.Math, Ramakrishna Mission, Vivekananda Kendra and Auroville
- is finding herself in increasing demand for consultation, hands-on
coordination work, lectures, conferences & seminars, training &
workshops, and for interviews. It is not unusual for her to find herself
in several major cities in the course of one week, addressing audiences
of several hundred people or meeting with Board Directors of top companies,
Government officers, wildlife conservationists, major estate managers
and the like; though her compassionate nature makes her specially enjoy
interacting with and helping local people like village farmers, tribals
and self-help groups.
Margarita is a remarkable woman doing a remarkable
work, but it should never be forgotten that the joint heroes of her
story are the EM micro-organisms themselves. What she and her micro-allies
are doing is a good reminder that humanity can benefit so much more
from working with nature than from assaulting and confronting it.