Rasha Al Najjar is tackling environmental issues in Bahrain by raising awareness and educating youth to conserve and protect their resources. She told Puja Tiwari about the issues close to her heart.
Rasha is a science teacher at Al Hekma International School who aspires to plant thousands of trees in the Kingdom as part of the Environment Online (ENO) initiative, which aims to plant one million trees across the globe by 2017.
As an environmentalist, which issue do you think Bahrain needs to tackle first?
The rise in global temperatures and its ripple effect through the environment affects Bahrain too. Our high summer temperatures, population density and low elevation make climate change mitigation especially important for the future of Bahrain.
How are you raising awareness of this?
I have a bigger vision to help Bahrain reach its Vision 2030, especially with sustainability. I’m trying to build global citizens who are aware of their environment and community. I believe this is the only way we can tackle environment change.
Tell us more about the projects you have been involved with?
I was short-listed for the Global Educational Supplies and Solutions 2016, and I am also the only educator chosen from Bahrain as ENO coordinator. Each coordinator works on building awareness about the environment in schools and the community, while simultaneously keeping up to date about global climate issues. There is a goal set by the ENO to plant one million trees worldwide by July 2017, and I am helping by bringing Bahrain onto the bandwagon. For this to materialise, I am directly liaising with ministries here.
How are you empowering the youth in order to create awareness for climate change?
I am educating them to make sure that once they graduate from school, they can make a difference in this world. My students started off knowing nothing about how, and even why, they need to take care of the environment. I celebrated Earth Day, World Water Day and Earth Hour to get them involved. I also encouraged them to reuse and recycle their resources. Then they began to acknowledge and express an interest in the same. We are facing a global problem that we need to combat together, and they know that their part is to educate and spread awareness.
Have you faced any challenges with bringing the ENO initiative to fruition?
Yes, in terms of communicating with ministries and getting a budget allocated. We will not be given a budget to cover the tree plantation for the targeted sector, so we plan on requesting schools, organisations and individuals to pay for their own trees.
Do you think these measures will halt global warming, if done right?
I don’t want to give out false hopes by stating the affirmative, but we can definitely control it. This is the only way we can continue to live in Bahrain. If sea levels rise, the repercussions Bahrain will have to face will be drastic. I wish everyone would be interested in protecting their community. We hope to help Bahrain reach Vision 2030 hand in hand and everyone can make a difference. g