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World Environment Day: Pakistani Alumni Lead Communities in Caring for the Environment

In honor of World Environment Day, IREX is pleased to share the stories of two Pakistani students' grassroots work to clean up their community.

This spring, two students in Pakistan rolled up their sleeves to the benefit of their communities and the environment. After extensive community service experience in the U.S., Israr wanted to create awareness about the importance of a clean environment while talking to his peers about their responsibility towards their school and community. He launched an environmental campaign and clean-up drive at his home university in Peshawar, with the help of grant funds administered through IREX.

During a seminar he organized as part of his environmental campaign, Israr discussed ways to keep the environment clean, which included holding peers accountable for littering. Throughout the clean-up campaign, Israr shared what he learned about community service while studying at Shawnee State University in the U.S. Whether it was sharing his experiences volunteering with the Coat of Many Colors program to build ramps for the handicapped, or lending the campus staff a hand, Israr had long conversations about the role and impact of community service.

“My perspectives were really influenced because of my community service experience,” he said.” I realized that if you do community service, you can both develop society and live a good life.”

Following the seminar Israr and a team of 25 student volunteers armed themselves with brooms, masks, and bags to clean up litter on their massive University of Peshawar campus.

Nearby, Fawad, a Fall 2010 alumnus, implemented a similar project. Fawad had picked up tips on environmental management through his community service at a farm in Jackson County while studying at Tennessee Tech University in the fall of 2010. 

Back in Pakistan, Fawad used a Project Smile grant to organize a street cleaning project in his county. In addition to removing the litter on the street, Fawad’s team of volunteers cleared many drains in order to improve the efficiency of the county sewer system. To then keep the drains clear of litter, they went door-to-door distributing trash bags to the residents, giving them specific instructions on how and where to dispose their trash, as well as briefing them on other useful eco-friendly practices. “The project was important to our community because it is a rural area where people have less awareness about public hygiene.”

Following the project, Fawad has met with the municipal government to discuss ways that local government officials and community members can work together for a more effective waste management system in the county. Fawad hopes that seeing their county bright and clean once will encourage the residents to continue to care for their environment.

Read about other IREX alumni working to improve the environment, including a community leader implementing green policies in Tobago and teachers working with students to monitor environmental threats in India.

The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and is implemented by IREX.