Not too long ago, at an Active Citizens training event in the UK, I proudly talked about how I was part of an online social enterprise called Filmannex. A web TV network that brilliantly formed a Win Win system for filmmakers and bloggers but also put global development at the frontline of it's objectives.
During that training event I was honoured to be one of three young people selected to participate in an International Study Visit to Sri Lanka, representing UK Active Citizens. It has been nearly a week since returning and I can't stop thinking about it!! The #filmannexphilosophy is becoming a central part of who I am today.
Young representatives from the UK, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Egypt came together under one roof, shrinking the world and sharing stories of inspiration.
I admired the passion behind some individuals as they spoke about the issues affecting their country, people and personal lives - A lot of it I shamefully didn't even realise - but I've come to learn that that's ok…
Once our cultures were exchanged and we bonded as a huge diverse team we split into smaller groups and took a step out into the community.
My group visit was centred around environmental projects.
- We visited a school where an 'Environmental Scouts' project amongst its young pupils provides ownership and understanding of the importance of waste management and sustainability. Encouraged through the shared knowledge of making compost and growing their own food resources, pupils become better prepared for a greener future. - They are now attempting to incorporate herb gardens for food and medicinal purposes.
- Granite and limestone mines. This seemed to be quite a complicated issue that shed light on the consequences of excluding a community during decision-making. Problems included sound pollution, air pollution, earth slips and destructive vibrations. To tackle air pollution, local governments replaced old methods of mining with new technologies but these new machines required fewer workers and so several miners lost their jobs. Similarly, vibrations caused cracks and damages to the homes of local residents and as a result they were offered new homes; the majority of which were refused, due to sentimental attachment. During our discussions with the local Active Citizens it was pointed out that residents needed a 'voice' as they seemed to be excluded from any official decision-making.
- Cleaning up a large riverbank was a grim reality check. Coming face to face with a used syringe lying on a bed of sand brought home the reality of how important it is to raise awareness and educate people on the outcomes of poor waste management. We discovered that a lack of awareness and resources were the biggest hindrances for a cleaner environment and local active citizens are now on a campaigning mission to change this. Surprisingly the majority of rubbish found was made up of clothing and I was dumbfounded to learn that smaller garment factories in Sri Lanka deposited their defect materials into the river! We spoke with local active citizens and suggested that they target these factories with a greener solution and ideas for a social enterprise.
If you are interested in finding out more about Active Citizens, check out the link below…and be a hippy ;)