My shoot in the Sundarbans near Calcutta

Schoolchildren in the Sundarbans, photo by Sean Rocha for Mlinda

Schoolchildren in the Sundarbans for Mlinda, photo by Sean Rocha

The Paris-based Mlinda Foundation sees a world imperiled by massive overconsumption and resource depletion, so they asked me to travel to the Sundarbans — the delta south of Calcutta and one of the most fragile ecosystems on earth — to photograph a couple of pilot projects they started on an island with no asphalt roads and limited electricity.  Mlinda’s idea is to provide new tools for development (including shared electric transport and solar micro-grids) that will leapfrog the resource-inefficient stage of early growth by building environmentally-sensitive infrastructure.

Workers at a brick kiln outside Calcutta, photo by Sean Rocha for Mlinda

Workers at a brick kiln outside Calcutta for Mlinda, photo by Sean Rocha

I spent a few days on the island — mercifully, with no sighting of the region’s legendary man-eating, river-swimming tiger — with their West Bengal staff tromping along mud-thick paths to meet villagers whose lives were literally transformed by a lightbulb and schoolchildren whose study hours doubled because they now had light.  It was, unexpectedly, one of the most moving experiences of my life.

You can check out my photos of Mlinda’s two pilot projects in the Sundarbans (solar energy and electric transport) on their newly launched website — or here to learn more about their mission.

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Click here to see more of my India photos, including my exhibit in Mumbai as part of the 2013 Focus photography festival.  Or here for my photos and articles about an unusual puppeteer in Kerala, a master veena player in Tamil Nadu, or the national sport of archery in Bhutan.

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