Lifestyle

Volunteer? YES!

10/10/10 was a particularly special day for our world, the 350.org, an international organization, invited the whole of humanity to celebrate a Global Work Party to raise peoples’ awareness of the reality of global warming effects.

‘YES!’ Sana’a Alumni, with the collaboration of Amideast English Institute in Sana’a, joined in to rejoice our planet and inspire people to care for its wellbeing.

‘YES!’ – Youth Exchange Studies – is a fully-funded scholarship program supported by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs which has offered, since 2003, the chance to 2000 secondary school graduates to study in the U.S.A. for a year, while living with host families.

The exchange program broadens the knowledge and the sense of duty of the students which are invested with the title and duties of being Cultural Ambassadors.

“The program opens doors for students to improve their skills, acquire experience and become more responsible. Thanks to the great improvement in their English language, they can apply to study for a bachelors degree aboard with a Canadian Nexen’s or Total’s scholarship schemes” illustrated Amal Al Wazir, the International Education Assistant for Amideast Sana’a.

Mrs Al Wazir remarked that the event demonstrated that students travelling abroad still had a strong bond with their homeland and the trip was not merely an entertaining vacation. In fact it helped these adolescents to grow.

“When they do return they bring with them the commitment to help their own communities”, affirmed Al-Wazir.

Maram Maged, vice president of YES!, confirmed that she definitely felt the low level of consciousness and sensibility youth in Yemen demonstrated when, for instance, failing to throw the garbage in the apposite disposals, wasting resources and using water inconsiderately.

“Before we went to the States we were not very familiar with the concept of volunteering, with the idea of doing any kind of social work without being paid. Thanks to the period spent in the U.S.A. I witnessed how responsible Americans feel towards their environment and when I came back to Yemen I was motivated to do the same” explained Osamah Al Shoeabi, president of the YES! Program.

This year, a young crowd of YES! and Amideast students and various volunteers gathered at Al Sabeen Park to symbolically and firmly show their care about environmental issues.

Maram continued “We came here to make people aware of the importance of keeping our environment clean … and giving back to the community,” added Nawal Abdallah.

Osamah described how people at the Sabe’en Park were initially surprised and puzzled when the group of students and volunteers started cleaning up the area, wondering quite what was happening.

“We had to explain to them that it was nothing to be ashamed nor embarrassed about. We are doing this for our country, for our Yemen,” he added.

Eventually some of the onlookers warmed to the idea, taking gloves and plastic bags and contributing to the success of the day.

10/10/10 has been celebrated this year with 7347 events in 188 countries. Groups of people and entire communities organized “nature friendly” activities, ranging from a mass bike cycle to tree planting and from cleaning up to the installation of solar panels on houses to be used instead of electricity.

The 350 org. was started by Bill McKibben, one of the first writers on global warming and on the necessity to tackle this issue hard and fast.

The number 350 was chosen for a particular reason. Studies have shown that 350 is the maximum parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which could be considered healthy to live in.

Throughout the earth’s history the value was around 275, that is, until the nineteenth century when the amount of the carbon gradually until it reached the current 392. Statistics show the number to be in a continuous rise of about 2 parts per million every year.

The most dangerous side effects of global warming are melting glaciers and ice caps, the increased frequency of drought and floods and the spread of malaria.

These are indeed preoccupying signs, but by working in synergy to decrease our amount of waste and unclean fuel combustion, we have the chance to reverse or at least stem the negative consequences of global warming.

“We are still searching for sponsors. The plan is to plant around 1600 small trees shortly and we hope an even bigger crowd will join us”.

The volunteering activities are an opportunity to break away from monotonous routines or negative habits.

“Instead of wasting time sleeping, watching TV, chewing qat or smoking sheesha, people get to do something productive” reasoned Mrs Amal.

“Personally, I don’t consider volunteering just as ‘work’. It’s also fun: the joy of gathering, the feedback and the gratitude we receive from people and the smiles lingering on their faces are far more valuable rewards” said Osamah.