June 5 is World Environment Day, a day designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the environment. This year's theme is "Beat Plastic Pollution," a silent epidemic that is gradually killing the environment and its resources.
Yemen is amongst the worst humanitarian crisis countries and is one of the most polluted countries in the world with plastic waste accumulating at an alarming rate. The situation has been worsened due to the eight-year conflict, which led to the breakdown of many essential services, including waste management.
But there are heroes who are working to change this. One such person is Thuria Alhakimi, a young Yemeni girl who is using art to raise awareness about plastic pollution and to help find solutions.
Thuria is a community and environmental activist who works as a grants and partnerships officer for an organization that supports youth-led initiatives. She is also a member of several community initiatives that are working to address the plastic pollution crisis in Yemen.
Thuria believes that art can be a powerful tool for raising awareness about environmental issues. She started her own project, called "Art from Waste," which uses recycled plastic to create art pieces that raise awareness about plastic pollution.
"I want to show people that plastic waste can be beautiful," says Thuria. "I also want to show them that it is possible to turn waste into something useful."
Thuria's project has been a success. She has created a number of beautiful art pieces that have been featured in exhibitions and sold to raise money for environmental initiatives. She has also inspired other people to start their own projects to address the plastic pollution crisis.
Plastic waste may not be expected to have artistic or aesthetic value, but Thuria has a different vision. With support from UNDP’s Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) in Yemen in partnership with Youth Leadership Development Foundation (YLDF), Thuria established a plastic waste recycling workshop to produce innovative products that meet market needs. These include creating toys to grow children’s intelligence, women's bags, home accessories, carpets, stuffing cloth toys, and making frames and bouquets.
Her project works to address the waste accumulation and recycle it and employ a workforce for many city residents to reduce unemployment and produce new products to meet the market needs of materials available without restrictions! UNDP’s YLP gave Thuria the space to create ideas and experiences and gain experience and skills to develop other new business ideas.
"I am proud of what I have accomplished," says Thuria. "I know that I am making a difference, and I hope that others will join me in the fight against plastic pollution."
"We all have a role to play," she says. "We can reduce our use of plastic, recycle whenever possible, and support organizations that are working to address the plastic pollution crisis."
"Together, we can make a difference." Thuria concludes.