UNV participates in ‘Let’s Do it Kosovo’ clean-up day
On May 24th United Nations Volunteers from UNMIK, UNDP, UNFPA, UN WOMEN and many other agencies hit the streets to pick up garbage! Their cleaning efforts were part of the Kosovo-wide campaign ‘Let’s do it Kosovo,’ part of the umbrella organization ‘Let’s do it world.’
Around the world there's more than 100 million tons of illegal garbage, according to the global campaign. Waste is everywhere - in cities, beaches, oceans, forests. And in Kosovo this is no different.
But on May 24th the streets and countryside became a little cleaner with the help of about a dozen UNVs and thousands of volunteers from around Kosovo.
“I wanted to help clean Kosovo because this is a really great initiative,” said Martina Vavrova, a UNV intern project associate with UNFPA.
She and other UNVs rolled up their sleeves, put on their white latex surgical gloves and started cleaning the winding streets of a Roma neighbourhood in Fushe Kosova. About 40 children of all ages pitched in enthusiastically turning their white gloves brown while filling dozens of plastic bags.
“They were great workers,” said Anca Enache, an intern for the Active Labour Market Program of UNDP. She was particularly impressed with the dedication of Senat Bajram, an 11-year-old boy from the neighbourhood.
Senat said he participated because “picking up garbage is important to prevent sickness.”
After spending the morning collecting trash, Senat added that he would tell all of his friends and family that “throwing garbage on the road is wrong.”
This is exactly the change in attitude the organizers of Let’s do it Kosovo were seeking.
In addition to mobilizing 50,000 volunteers, the organizers set their sights on launching an on-going awareness campaign to change the attitude of Kosovars towards the environment.
“The overall objective is to create the awareness that waste and maintaining a clean environment is the responsibility of each and every one of us,” reads the Let’s do it Kosovo website.
This was exactly the kind of initiative the UNV team in Kosovo was looking for says June Kashio, the UNV Program Coordinator for the United Nations Kosovo Team.
“This was a great initiative that fits with UNV’s global mandate to promote volunteerism for peace and development under the focus on Millenium Development Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability for the Environment", she said.
United Nations volunteers have also led many other eco-friendly campaigns to ameliorate lives in Kosovo. They have collected used clothing and shoes to donate to a local women’s shelter, they have collected plastic bottle caps as part of the Kosovo Cap Project to purchase wheelchairs and they’ve organized smaller scale clean-ups throughout the territory.
Karma Loday, a UNV Program Officer said there are many more initiatives to come.
“The UNV program via the UNV small scheme grant is designing and assisting existing campaigns to raise awareness amongst the citizens of Kosovo on environmental issues,” he said.
UNV Kosovo is also a member of the UNKT Environment Thematic Group to contribute to environmental initiatives and joint advocacy events. The strength UNV brings to this group is its ability to advocate for community based initiatives and promote civic engagement through volunteering.
“We hope that the event will not end after 24 May, we hope that it was just the beginning, that it triggers other actions and other locally driven initiatives to promote a cleaner Kosovo, a greener place to live and breathe,” said June Kashio.
Photos: Alexia Skok and June Kashio.