After attending a four-day Active Citizens training workshop, Maria Zia was motivated to put into action a desire she had long held – to clean up parts of her city, Rawalpindi, and educate the community about the importance of controlling environmental pollution. ‘Ao Pindi Chamkain’ (Let’s Clean Up Pindi) is the award-winning social action project initiated by Maria.
Her team of twelve students meets regularly at the Commercial Market Park and divides into groups of 2 or 3. These groups spread out to different areas nearby, armed with garbage disposal bags and dustbins. They pick up litter and talk to residents along the way, in the hope of inspiring them with their spirit of community participation.
There has been a marked improvement in the environment of the neighbourhoods that Maria’s group regularly visits. Residents who were initially sceptical about the commitment of these youngsters have acknowledged their contributions and have pledged to carry forward their work. Work which, rewarding though it may be, is not without its difficulties. The most serious one is a lack of finances. Since the members of the group are all students, they are finding it increasingly difficult to cover the costs of transportation and materials.
Maria hopes that residents will now start pitching in to provide financial support and ensure the long-term sustainability of her project.