Greening for a good cause

Lauren O’Connor-May

An initiative by an eco-minded pupils at Darul Arqam Islamic High School (DAIHS) has sprouted into a rapidly growing, green campaign.

Mubash-Shir Cader, a Grade 11 pupil, started an Eco-Club at the school. The school’s staff supported the initiative and incorporated it into its DAIHS Care Campaign banner. Mubash-Shir said the club got off the ground rather slowly at first but it quickly gathered momentum.

Zaakiyah Solomons said: “Once they saw what we were doing, everyone became interested.”

Zaakiyah and Mubash-Shir were the club’s two first members and are now its leaders. They say the club is environmentally-oriented but its first projects were more charity-driven. Each pupil at the school was asked to bring an extra sandwich on Tuesdays and these were given to children at the neighbouring Eastville Primary School or the Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre. This was dubbed the Sandwiches for Success Campaign and it increased the club’s popularity. As its numbers grew, the club was able to organise beach clean-ups and install a paper recycling bin – and then they were ready for bigger projects.

To create sustainability, the club asked for a piece of ground on which to grow vegetables and the school obliged.

“The school is supportive of this initiative because it teaches social responsibility. The pupils are working with sustainable projects that create socio-economic upliftment. They are also learning useful skills that will give them the capabilities to handle and navigate further pathways in life. It also builds confidence and motivates them,” said Moulana Aslam Cassiem, the Public Relations Officer for the school.

The purpose of the garden is to grow greens for a soup kitchen and to grow seedlings, such as basil, celery, chilli and tomatoes for sale.

But once the club caught the gardening bug, they didn’t restrict themselves to the ground only – they used old bottles and tyres to create a vertical garden along on the school’s wall.

The club now has 30 members and according to their year planner, the goals only get more ambitious – they intend to roll out their recycling campaign to neighbouring schools, mosques and the wider community.

But they still have long way to go.

“We still need fencing, compost, training, irrigation and guidance,” said Mubash-Shir explaining that the club’s next step was to get training, “And boxes.”