By Mudassir Raja
Ramadan re-enkindles many good qualities in Muslims. Altruism, charity, hospitality, generosity, kindness and volunteerism to mention a few.
During the holy month of Ramadan, people from different backgrounds are seen getting involved in volunteer work in Qatar. One such activity is beach clean-up drives. The exercise demands a lot of time and energy to go to beach areas and physically collect the garbage.
It is not easy during hot Ramadan evening to go out in the open and collect the trash while you are fasting. However, the spirits of the devoted volunteers of Doha Environmental Action Project (DEAP) were not dampened by the hot weather and fasting. About 300 volunteers recently gathered at Al Zubarah beach to clean the area of plastic and other garbage.
“DEAP in conjunction with Nestle waters, Nestle Qatar and Qatar Museums Division of Cultural Heritage held an incredible beach cleanup recently at the Al Zubarah, a Unesco world heritage archeological site. Some 300 volunteers participated in the event where over 5,000 kilos of trash where collected in one hour”, said Jose Saucedo, Director of DEAP.
He added: “We started at 5pm and finished at 6pm. It was an incredible moment, to see all the volunteers living the spirit of Ramadan cleaning the beautiful beach, giving back to the community and showing some love for Qatar and nature. Yes, it was hot, and yes many of us were fasting, but none of that gets in the way for DEAP and its volunteers! Seeing all the volunteers have Iftar at the beach – on a clean beach – was quite a magical moment.”
Jose, a US national and devoted volunteer, said: “DEAP is a volunteering organisation leading the beach cleanup movement, and the fight against plastic pollution in Qatar. During the past two years, DEAP has organised as many as 115 cleanup drives across Qatar, where more than 5,300 volunteers have participated, collecting in total over 65,000 kilos of trash from Qatar’s beaches and sand dunes.
In addition to the cleanup drives Jose has been very active in the community doing over 40 school presentations in an effort to educate our youth about marine life in Qatar, plastic pollution and its impact, and what the students can do to help mitigate the problem.
He said: “Plastic pollution is a huge international problem. DEAP is determined to create a tipping point that generates a shift in behaviours that will benefit the environment and our community. The amount of trash found in our beaches and sand dunes is appalling. Worldwide every year 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean. We can’t pretend nothing is happening. The time to act is here and now.”
He added: “DEAP wants to take the whole country on cleanups. We are advocating for the creation of a ‘National Beach Cleanup Day’, and for a number of actions that if implemented would make Qatar the global leader in the fight against plastic pollution and would gain international recognition for Qatar in the field of sustainability, making it a benchmark for other countries.
“If you love Qatar and nature and want to have litter free beaches and sand dunes for generations to come, join DEAP’s efforts to #keepqatarclean and support their effort to continue discovering Qatar with a purpose,” he added.
Shola Bello is a Nigerian expatriate and a dedicated volunteer working with DEAP. He said: “The recent drive was amazing and unprecedented. For the first time there were 300 volunteers turning up at one time. It was hot Ramadan evening. I along with many other volunteers was fasting. However, I was very spirited and did my work diligently.
“I am a photographer associated with the group. I collect trash and at the same time capture the photos of the volunteers during the work. I joined the group early this year. I have been in Qatar for seven years. I have found a productive way of spending my free time.
“As a Muslim, it is our duty to have cleanliness around us. In Ramadan, it becomes more prominent as we have to take care of other human beings and nature. I also enjoyed having my Iftar on the beach after doing good work.”
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