2005 marks the midterm of the "International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World" (2001-2010) as well as the launch of the "United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development" (2005-2014). To contribute to these global initiatives, the theme of the 2005 International Essay Contest was "Caring for Our Planet."
This was my article, though I'm not good in writing about the environment, well, at least I tried! And the result turned out real well! I got the second prize in the Goi Peace Foundation Competition
and for the first time ever, I won a cash prize in a writing competition. I've won lots of stuff before: certificates and books and so on, but this competition is different, not just because of the cash, but coz it means a lot to me! This foundation is Japanese and I love Japan lots and lots!!
Anyways, here's the link where my name and article are published:
Thanks to everyone who took time in reading the article and to all those people who supported me all the way! My Grade (B) in the English Exam turned out real fine for me!!
Next year, if I happen to get the first prize, it means I'll go to Japan, be nice to me so I can get everyone gifts and stuff ok?! Start being nice from NOW!! Lol ;)
When I read the theme of the contest, I felt like having to talk about an endless problem, because in my country, nature's problems have taken a long serious path. Everyone is having negative feelings about nature and one's duties towards it. This was the main reason that encouraged me to write about my experiences in this issue.
First, let me define some reasons why the people in my country feel irresponsible towards nature. For many centuries, Egyptians have fought for independence and freedom, which they were finally granted in the fifties. But it wasn't until the liberation of Sinai in 1973 that people began to realize they had to rebuild their country and get rid of all the destruction. Unfortunately, everyone took a path towards rebuilding a future, not for the country, but for one's self. People wanted to feel secure and nobody cooperated with the other; no one cared to remove the bombs implanted in the deserts and trees were cut down to allow larger spaces for buildings and factories. People became careless; they easily broke environmental laws and no one cared about the country's real development. This was fatally catastrophic for the country's nature and the people's health. I don't really know who to blame for this selfish behavior as wars don't necessarily make people behave so; many countries were rebuilt with cooperation among its people. However, this I-don't-care attitude towards nature has been a 'theme' for most people to follow. But it was time for the young people to interfere and try to stop this mayhem.
My friends and I started with the simple things first, trying never to throw any litter down the streets. It was a difficult task because the city provided very few trash cans, and the ones present where badly handled, sometimes even used for another tasks other than trash-throwing. Doing this made my behavior and habits better and helped me set a role model for others to follow.
When it was time to tackle the big environmental issues, we set up a group called 'Our Common Aim'. Our mission was to work on certain poor areas that needed an entire makeover in houses, garbage and the whole atmosphere. As a start, we used a questionnaire to test people's awareness about these areas, but it was hardly taken serious by anyone. We captured photos for the targeted areas and wrote about them so as to inspire people to move and donate to help those places, however, no one seemed interested in our work and our fundraising mission failed. In spite of all the enthusiasm that surrounded our work, watching what happened to this group made me realize that we need to "awaken" people first and tell them that caring for the environment was their responsibility. We couldn't get straight into the aim of our project which was to give a better life to people living in such horrible circumstances because no one even looked at those areas with a responsible criticizing eye. Everyone needs to realize that such places are like an epidemic, they spread fast. Therefore, people's habits and ideas need a crucial change. This should be done, not just by the government, but also through the media, schools and NGOs. Practical projects on the environment should be conducted, as well as trips to natural sights, to help create an interest in people, especially kids, towards nature and the places they live in.
I have taken "awakening people" as my aim through writing, because it is an effective, non costly way. I also work with the Youth Committee in the Egyptian Association for Friends of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, where we set up small projects and are given access to places where we can talk to kids and inspire people about different issues, of course including nature.
Although there are so many scientific and technical developments the world has reached, these things made life easier but not better. Due to pollution and natural problems that we face today, some diseases have evolved that had never existed before, when there weren't as many factories and facilities as we have today.
To sum up, the message I want to send to the whole world is that we shouldn't build our comfort on nature's account. Also, how the place we live in looks is part of who we are: caring for our planet means caring for ourselves and preventing diseases and disasters. Therefore, laws should be laid down to ensure that each citizen maintains and well keeps the appearance of his neighborhood, city and country in general. Nevertheless, these laws will need the presence of police officers who are ready to impose them and ensure that they are being obeyed.
The cries of the shameful status of our planet are getting louder. Will anybody listen?