When school children decide to solve the problems they face because of poor waste management, they become agents of change.
This is the idea Sadia Jafrin Khan and Amina Azad, two Teach for Bangladesh fellows, came up with to bring change in their community. They named it Waste: A source of Resource (WAR).
At the Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change organised by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), their idea was selected in the best 20 among over 240 entries received from 100 countries around the world.
Sadia and Amina realised that there are waste management programmes in the country, but they are accessible to only the higher socioeconomic classes.
On the other hand, the exposure of waste affects those at the bottom of the pyramid most as they know details of waste but are unaware of the awareness programmes. The two young women went to illustrate the deep intertwining link between waste and poverty.
The duo established a more empowering link when they decided to connect recycling with earning and sustainable living so that communities can create profitable recycling businesses and commit to building a sustainable environment as citizens.
To turn their idea into reality, Sadia and Amina worked with the students of Gawair Nabin Government Primary School. Students recognised the problems leading to floods, drain blockage and ill health. They also learned the prior benefits of keeping the environment clean.
Greenman Bangladesh and Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (BELA) were invited to conduct sessions on waste management, the recycling process and sustainability. Crafty Pie, a small scale enterprise, taught them how to build a business out of recycled products.
Then it was time to test everything the students had learned. The students organised road shows and talk shows to raise awareness among other classes and the larger community. They installed dustbins within the schools and community to ease the recycling process.
But what could be a better way to test their acumen than disseminating their knowledge to their parents?
Their work was highly applauded by members of the community, but it was Advocate Sahara Khatun, Member of Parliament whom they got an opportunity to meet to let her know about their everyday suffering due to waste.
This is the first time Bangladesh has been featured in this competition. But more importantly, this idea proves the potential Bangladeshis have by giving agency to those who can bring change.