Mariyam Sara is a Fellow at Youth Leaders for Clear Air Fellowship by Clean Air Fund in the collaboration with Pravah.
Here, Mariyam is sharing her story of being a part of this prestigious fellowship and designing and executing her unique Social Action Project to address Delhi’s acute air pollution problem.
Her efforts are actively bringing substantive changes in the lives of the residents of Delhi and empowering them to take meaningful action towards a cleaner, greener Delhi.
Go on and read how her story inspires you(th) to take action because the time is now!
How did you come to know about the fellowship? And what inspired you to take it up?
I’ve been a follower of Pravah’s work and I’ve always wanted to be a part of the space. I got to know about the fellowship through their social media page and also from one of my friends.
I’ve worked on the intersection of gender and climate change in my postgraduate thesis, the environmental crisis is one of my major areas of interest, as I want to go into social work in the future.
So when I got to know about this fellowship I was really excited about the opportunity and was hoping to get selected. I have always been passionate to work for the environment and this looked like a perfect opportunity.
What is the most pressing concern with respect to Air Pollution in Delhi?
The effect of Air Pollution is different on different sections of society and it’s important for us to go deeper in order to understand how air pollution affects everybody differently the major brunt of air pollution is on economically weaker sections and the marginalized people of the society.
Air pollution in Delhi is increasing at an alarming rate and it’s important to acknowledge it and address it on a bigger and the individual level.
Being part of this fellowship helps me to be a leader and advocate for a cause that I really want to address.
What problems does your project solve? Briefly describe your efforts to address the issue.
My social action project is focusing on the health impacts of Air Pollution on the construction workers in Delhi-NCR. I am trying to understand how the workers on the ground in Delhi-NCR are getting affected by being on-site and as a person coming from an economically weaker section of society.
My tools for collecting data are secondary and primary based, majorly secondary data. My target audience is construction workers. My area of study is Delhi-NCR. I’ll be writing a research paper and getting it published by the end of the project.
Which SDG(s) is your project directly addressing?
- SDG 3: Good health and Wellbeing
- SDG 12: Climate Action
What motivates you to work towards the long term sustainability of the environment?
My passion is to work for society. I’ve always wanted to work for society even before knowing what exactly is social work as a concept. I always thought about how nature gives us so many things and it’s important to give nature back, especially by conserving it as it’s the need of the hour right now.
As human beings, we need to understand how we need to give back and especially love nature and not just exhaust it for our benefit, and giving back to society should be an important aspect of everybody’s lives.
What impact you have affected or plan to achieve?
I want to create advocacy and awareness through my social action project by talking about the section that nobody talks about, the construction workers of the Delhi-NCR who are in direct contact with many pollutants especially pollution created by construction emissions on a daily basis.
I want to advocate and bring this issue to the forefront through my research paper and make people think about the other sections of the society too, and how the air pollution affects us all very differently.
What challenges did you face during the journey? How did you overcome them?
For secondary data collection, I struggle to get access to some research papers, journal articles or books which affects the research part and the drafts of my paper
For my primary data collection, the challenge is in getting access to the workers directly to talk to them, it is not resolved fully yet. I’m trying to work with some alternatives for the remaining field visits.
What are the skills and values that you acquired during the fellowship?
Leadership, time management, being empathetic towards other fellows and with my target audience while interacting with them on the ground, teamwork and being supportive to my fellows. Understanding the importance of giving oneself a break and creating a balance so that one doesn’t get burnout.
Advocacy online and offline through social media and on the ground. Brushed up some existing skills like content creation and social media management.
How do you plan to sustain your project further?
I plan to reach out to more workers, people that come under unorganised labourers, like different types of riksha pullers which include; hath riksha, e-riksha, and auto riksha, effects of air pollution on their health.
Reaching out to different communities to create awareness and advocacy and to understand their understanding of Air pollution and what problems they face on a personal level and on their workspace while being on the field. Covering more communities or sections of societies.
How can people reading this contribute to your project or cause?
By being an active listener and participant in understanding the health impacts of the people around them coming from underprivileged and weaker sections of the society. Secondly, by advocating my work and research to bring this concern to the forefront by sharing it and talking about it more and by reaching out to people themselves in understanding how others around them are getting affected by Air Pollution.
How can others follow in your footsteps towards sustainability?
Being passionate is the first step and acknowledging how climate change is here and real, many people still do not consider it as a ‘real’ issue. Next, being empathetic, trying to understand how important it is to give back to nature and love it.
Being a conscious participant in taking sustainable steps. Starting with small steps and being an advocate to inspire others in creating a sustainable environment.
We at Young Influx would like to take this opportunity to thank Mariyam for taking a leap of faith and sharing her impeccable story with us. We appreciate her efforts and are pleased to bring out her story to a climate-conscious audience.
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