The 22 April marks International Mother Earth Day. This year’s theme is ‘End Plastic Pollution’, so we want to share Baria’s story. Baria has been training with the YMCA in Togo, and is helping to introduce a waste management scheme to her local area.
Aged 26, Baria has been training with our local YMCA in disaster risk reduction for over a year.
Already she’s using her knowledge to benefit the whole community where she lives in Tokoin-Elavagnon, Togo, which is frequently threatened by devastating flooding. Baria and her community now feel prepared for the next disaster they face.
From the paralegal training she has received, Baria now understands the social justice issues that have the greatest impact on people her age. She has learned how to lobby and engage with local authorities on these issues, and her advocacy training means that the benefits are felt by the entire village. For example, she is helping to negotiate with the local municipality to receive support for their drain clearing activities.
The environment where Baria lives is severely polluted because people are used to dumping their waste anywhere, with no rules and no fear of consequences. This behaviour can lead to a whole host of problems, including health issues, for those living there. But young people like Baria are becoming agents for change. She is tackling this issue head on, by working to set up a system of waste collection with some of her friends.
By playing such a strong role within her community, she acts as a positive role model for other young people, particularly women, and actively wants to help others who are in a similar position to herself.
“I’m already using my skills, almost every day. In fact, people already know me and ask for help.”
On #InternationalMotherEarthDay, we think Baria’s efforts to reduce pollution in her community should be an inspiration to young people everywhere.