To transform the society into a cleaner and greener zone, Ali AlQaseer and Ruqaya Hashem, two Bahrainis are on a spree to make a change through CleanUp Bahrain
What is Cleanup Bahrain. From where did the idea germinate?
It’s always been frustrating for us seeing different kinds of waste being irresponsibly handled. The more we thought of it, the more we lost hope. We then questioned ourselves, “What can we do for the environment?”
That was when we took it upon ourselves to go out and find a dying beach to save. On January 22, 2016, we created a team of two enthusiastic cleaners for this task and headed towards the Dumistan beach. We started inviting people to our campaign and the association started to become bigger and better. Today, we have over 500 wonderful cleaners who have helped us conduct over 30 clean-up drives. This movement led to the launch of the biggest clean-up event in Bahrain, which covered five beaches simultaneously. This was done in collaboration with an environmental diving team called “Ethar al Bahrain.” In just two hours, we managed to collect 4.5 tons of general waste, in addition to 600 kg of plastic waste.
We are happy to be the first in the MENA region to have organised several screenings of the global, award-winning documentary A Plastic Ocean, which sheds light on the dangers of plastic.
If you find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million, what would you do?
We aspire to build a state-of-the-art educational centre in the Kingdom of Bahrain that allows children to take a journey through the important pillars of sustainability namely Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in a creative and active way. We would also invest in creating educational programmes and send out volunteers across the globe, making this a global movement.
How would you convince someone to join your cause?
Our campaigns are not just about maintaining cleanliness. They are about the joy of working together towards a good cause. Our clean-up activities are very lively and entertaining. Sea view never fails to sooth the soul, which is really inviting. Once we get them to participate in one clean-up activity, convincing becomes less of an issue.
Five things that you can’t live without?
Our selfless volunteers. Making a difference. A healthy environment. Supportive family and friends. Passion. That’s a given!
What do you think are the impediments in your journey?
The real challenge is the mindset of people. It is extremely difficult to convince people to keep a check on their habits when it comes to waste disposal. Their insensitivity towards environment comes as a shocker to us.
If given a super power, what would you like to have? Why?
I would love to have the ability to manipulate plastic and items containing plastic fibres. I think, it would be great if we could eradicate things made of plastic. It will make a lot of difference to the environment.
By: Nikita Sharma