Students mark National Environment Day by getting hands dirt

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Students mark National Environment Day by getting hands dirt

Post by Admin on Tue Apr 10, 2007 4:24 am

Students mark National Environment Day by getting hands dirty






The kids had a surprisingly good time collecting garbage.The students of Amideast in Sana’a helped Yemen observe the fifth annual National Environment Day by cleaning up the massive Al-Sabaeen Park on Thursday Feb. 22. This year’s National Environment Day kicked off with a special ceremony in the Manakha district of Sana’a governorate on Feb. 20 under the theme “Maintaining our environment is our responsibility.”

The festivities in Manakha marked the beginning of a series of planned events in other governorates throughout the country over the past week. In 2002, the Yemeni Cabinet issued decree No. 501 making the 20th of February of every year the National Environment Day, to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining the environment and highlight ways of restoring it. A campaign of reforestation was underway in the city of Manakha several days before the celebration in the city, in which tree seedlings were distributed and planted at schools and government buildings. There was also a campaign to clean the city streets and remove uncollected garbage.

As part of the celebration, educational lectures about the importance of preserving the environment were delivered to the public to raise awareness of the issue with the citizens of the district. These days, the importance of maintaining the environment has become a cause celebre the world over due to its direct and indirect effects on human life and health. Recently, many governmental and non-governmental bodies and organizations in Yemen have put together and begun enacting plans aimed at preserving the environment.

“According to Article 35 of the Yemeni Constitution, protecting the environment is the responsibility of the government and society and it is a religious and national duty,” says Minister of Water and Environment, Abdul-Rahman al-Eryani. “Establishing conservation activities helps the ministry to improve the people’s awareness of the importance of preserving the environment and encourage their participation to maintain it.”

The Amideast Institute in Sana’a participated with its Access students in National Environment Day last Thursday, by cleaning up Al-Sabaeen Park. Access students study at the institute under the Access English Microscholarship Program—a program sponsored by Amideast and the US government. “This year we have a hundred and fifty teenagers from the age of fourteen to eighteen who get free English lessons,” said Debra Lichtenthaeler, Access Coordinator in the Amideast Institute.

“We came to Al-Sabaeen Park because it is enclosed. It is a bit safer than going out on the roadside, which also needs to be cleaned up, but is more dangerous.” Lichtenthaeler says that the idea was to teach young people to think about Yemen as their country and to realize that they are responsible for it. And that means cleaning it up. “We all know that Yemenis all think it is better to throw things down and not to pick them back up,” she said.







Working for a cleaner environment for the future“The students protested in the beginning, but it became fun once they were divided into ‘clean-up groups’ with their friends. Amideast plans to do other activities like this to make students feel more responsible for their communities’ services.” “We cleaned the whole Al-Sabaeen Park. We were divided into groups and every group went with one teacher to clean a specific area; in the end, the whole park was cleaned,” said Naseem Radman, 15.

“Then, we took the plastic bags, papers and other garbage to the car to be hauled away.” Once the activity was finished, the students were asked to fill out a questionnaire that asked them what they enjoyed about the process, why they think Amideast chose to clean this park in particular, and whether or not they would do something like this again in the future. “I think that Amideast chose Al-Sabaeen Park particularly because it is a very large one. Moreover, anybody can enter the park whether they are rich or poor, because it is a public park and doesn’t cost a single rial.

So everybody can come and enjoy the fresh air in a nice clean place,” Radman said. “We are very happy with this activity because this is a benevolent one for our beloved country and for us as well. Also, this activity is a good way to celebrate the National Environment Day.” The work was fun for a lot of students as it was the volunteer activity that they had participated in. “I enjoyed this activity because it was a day of service. Some people in the park made fun of us when we were busy picking up the stuff on the ground; but there were a number of other people who praised us for our good work,” said Salwa, 18.

“This activity is very wonderful because not only did the park get cleaned, but it encouraged the students to work together and cooperate to achieve a goal. Calling us names and making fun of us is not very nice, but we didn’t pay attention to such nonsense,” said Mohammed Nejad, 18. “I liked this activity because it is a service to our country and is a good lesson to other people about not being shy or embarrassed about cleaning up their environment. Activities such as these are a way to develop the country and make it better,” said Ameen al-Mutawakel, 18.

“This activity is not only useful but it is necessary, because if we do not do things like this and are not interested in cleaning the simplest public places in our country, there will be piles and piles of rubbish every place you look. Such a thing would make you doubt that you were living in the Arab Capital of Culture for 2004. We also want to show that Yemeni people are not as some foreign people think—that we are educated and we know that we are responsible for our country, and that we are interested in its cleanliness and maintenance,” said Ghadeer al-Doba’i, 15.

“I would be very happy to participate in an activity like this again because, frankly, we enjoyed it a lot. There were some negative aspects, but for the most part it was fun—the best part was working together in groups,” al-Doba’i said. “I hope that, in the future, it will not only be Amideast who will be involved in activities like these, but the government and other private schools as well. They should be interested in encouraging all students to clean up their society.”

Amideast is a private, nonprofit organization that strengthens mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. Every year, Amideast provides English language and professional skills training, educational advising, and testing services to hundreds of thousands of students and professionals in the Middle East and North Africa; supports numerous institutional development projects in the region; and administers educational exchange programs.

Founded in 1951, Amideast is headquartered in Washington, DC with a network of field offices in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank/Gaza, and Yemen.

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