Photo: Secretary-General António Guterres addresses a high-level event inaugurating Africa Week on 16 October 2017 at the UN headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Cia Pak - Photo: 2021

Tajikistan: Young Girl Out to Save The Community from Pollution

By Sharofat Shafieva

KHOROG, Tajikistan (IDN) — The city of Khorog is generally clean, but it has a problem with waste management. Residents leave their garbage on the streets and especially in public places. The central market is one of the places where there is a large garbage dump.

“Passing by garbage is very unpleasant. No matter how much the administration cleans the garbage, it still collects in one day. It is especially terrible in summer when a very bad smell appears,” notes Shafoat Jafoeva a regular visitor to the market. “The waste mostly belongs to the merchants, and it would be good if the sellers of the market find a better way to manage their waste”, she adds.

A young girl of 12 years Sohibdavlat Qalandarkhonova is passionate about the environment, and she would like to help the community to appreciate the value of tackling, environmental issues taking responsibility themselves. She is also interested in crafts and recycling waste into products that can be used in everyday living.

Sohibdavlat is a 6th-grade student of the Aga Khan Lyceum here in Khorog. She became passionate about science lessons and takes extra curriculum classes on science at school. During the classes, she studies not only theory but conducts experiments as well.

“Our school has opened a mixed lab program project where we can study science. I started going to these classes and it was very interesting to me as we did various experiments. I would also make different products with hot glue, this was my favourite thing,” Sohibdavlat told IDN.

The young activist use materials such as glass, paper, cardboard, metal, textiles, batteries, as recycled products. It is in the research on recycled products that Sohibdavlat got familiar with the issue called climate change.

“A few years ago, a mudflow washed away a whole village in our region. I remember we had no light, and everyone said that the mudflow blocked the river road and the river could flood other villages and even Khorog,” recalls Sohibdavlat about her harrowing experience that woke her up to the dangers of climate change. “Later, I learned from adults that our climate is getting hot, then that the emission of gases in to the atmosphere is getting bigger. Ice in our mountains melts due to high temperatures and forms a mudflow.”

Knowing more about the consequence of climate change and the problems that may arise in the future, she began to worry about the environment in her city. Sohibdavlat’s first idea was that she should stop polluting the environment by throwing garbage into the river and other places. Moreover, she wanted to raise awareness among her classmates as well.

During the extra classes on science, she made different crafts. Her mentor told her about eco-activism and advised her to use plastic bottles instead of wasting paper while she is doing crafts. From this, the idea of eco-friendly campaign among children was born, on which Sohibdavlat and her mentor began to work.

“Creativity is one of the important tools in the methodology of teaching science to children. Scientific theories may seem complicated to children, and they quickly lose interest. We made different products from plastic bottles and in the process of work I told Sohibdavlat that using bottles reduces the plastic garbage. And if you want to reduce even more the release of garbage into the environment, you can become an eco-activist. She liked the idea and we decided to create a project,” said her mentor, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Sohibdavlat’s products will be demonstrated at the presentation of the project.

Using large plastic bottles, Sohibdavlat makes pencil cases. “To make such a pencil case, you need a zipper, a plastic bottle, and a knitting thread. Such a pencil case turns out to be very beautiful and creative. The zipper can be glued with hot glue,” she explains.

In addition to the pencil case, she makes many other products. These can be both ordinary toys and household products. She made piggy banks out of boxes of Pringles chips.

Sohibdavlat try very hard to have little waste from the bottles that she uses. Very often, a lot of plastic bottle caps accumulate. Sorting them by size, she painted them red and green and made flowers. Such flowers look very cute in the decor for any interior.

Sohibdavlat’s mother loves to plant flowers. Almost every year she buys small seedlings and plants new flowers. Almost all the flowerpots that are sold in her city are made of plastic. To reduce the double use of plastics, she decided to make pots for small seedlings.

Sohibdavlat explains how she makes flowerpots from waste: “To make a flowerpot, I take a large coke bottle and cut it into two parts. To make the halves of the bottle stand flat, I cut triangles around the edges. Next, playing with colours, I paint the bottle and let the paint dry. After that, the pot is ready for use. For its manufacture, only paints are needed. I use oil paints. After it is dry, I cover the colour with varnish”.

Almost every month, Sohibdavlat’s younger brother and his peers buy from 15 to 20 discs of cartoons. After one viewing, these discs become unnecessary. Many people throw them in the trash.

“There is a lot of garbage in the form of discs among my brother’s peers. I took these discs and together with my tutor we made an organizer for stationery and brushes. My tutor helped me knit shapes with thread and sew them. To make the organizer look more beautiful, flowers and beads were glued on it, which were also taken from unnecessary clothes”, explained Sohibdavlat.

Sohibdavlat is getting ready to make her campaign and the products that she makes public through an exhibition at her school titled Let Save Our Khorog from Pollution. Some of the products can be put up for sale and money will go for environmental conservation, or to the budget of the environmental club that she would like to create.

Her tutor would like to encourage other students to join the environment campaign. “Join the campaign if you want to protect the planet from pollution and support such small, talented future leaders as Sohibdavlat,” says her tutor. [IDN-InDepthNews – 26 November 2021]

* Sharofat Shafieva is a communication and media student at the University of Central Asia in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan.

Photo: Collage of Crafts (left) and Sohibdavlat Qalandarkhonova (right).

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