School in Qamishlo teaches children to care for their local environment

"Cleaning does not only begin and end in the home. These parks and streets are also our homes."

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A primary school in the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) city of Qamishli (Qamishlo) has launched a cleaning campaign that encourages its students to take care of the environment, particularly at parks and playgrounds where the students play.

As the years-long Syrian war continues, children have borne the brunt of the conflict, often missing out on the ability to enjoy their childhood. Activities such as riding bikes in the street, playing at the park, or even attending school have been at times impossible.

A local school in Qamishlo says its initiative teaches children to take care of their environment by having the students – a group of 50 as young as 6 – participate in the clearing the parks and playgrounds of litter.

Darin Mihemed, one of the teachers at the school, told Kurdistan 24 the campaign is meant to educate students on the importance of protecting the environment.

“Children are a clean slate. Whatever you teach a child, they will cling on to,” she said. “Cleaning does not only begin and end in the home. These parks and streets are also our homes. A clean environment is important. We have to teach our children these things at a young age.”

Indeed, the students understand these principles, and some of the children Kurdistan 24 spoke to shared excitement at the opportunity to contribute to the beauty of their parks and playgrounds.

“We are cleaning these parks so our friends can play safe,” Nur Hesen said.

Another child, Lewand Ismayil, said he wants to keep the parks and streets pristine because “it’s my second home,” while Rexda Mehmud called on people not to pick flowers or cut down trees.

The local school hopes their campaign spreads to other areas across Rojava and Syria to ensure children have surroundings they can appreciate and can put the memories of war and hardship behind them. 

Editing by John J. Catherine

(Additional reporting by Dilovan Ceto)