Save the Margallas

[Originally featured on the ExchangesConnect blog.]

Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is celebrated during the third week of April every year with much fervour across the world to highlight the importance of the youth’s involvement in community development. Keeping the youth service tradition alive, YES Alumni Islamabad commemorated GYSD for the second successive year this April.

The theme chosen for this GYSD was “Save the Margallas” for which the alumni decided to hold an interactive activity for the middle and high school
students of Islamabad to make learning and giving back to the community more exciting. For this purpose, a hike was arranged to Daman-e-Koh in the picturesque Margalla Hills of Islamabad. Participants numbered a total of 55, which included students from four different schools: Headstart School, Liberal Arts High School, ASAS, and ICAS.

Participants hiked from the Marghazar Zoo up to Daman-e-Koh in around forty-five minutes. They were provided with sanitary gloves and garbage bags so that they could collect litter disposed of on the track along their way. Upon reaching Daman-e-Koh, the garbage bags were dumped in the garbage cans installed there, and the students rested for a while.

The participants were provided with refreshments and snacks, which was followed by an interactive session whereby an introduction to the organisational structure of YES alumni was given. The Alumni informed the participants that the YES programme is a year-long foreign exchange programme under which students aged 15-16 are chosen through a rigorous selection procedure to represent Pakistan in the United States for one academic year during which students stay with an American host family and attend an American high school. An introduction to iEARN Pakistan was also given as it is the NGO that facilitates the selection and management procedures of the YES programme in Pakistan, including its alumni activities. Students were also enlightened about the Global Youth Service Day and the important role each member of the population, especially the youth, could play in improving the situation of their respective communities through various practical means.

Coloured pieces of paper and iEARN souvenir pens were distributed amongst the participants and they were directed to use each other’s backs as support for writing on the paper. What they had to write was a pledge not to litter again, and be responsible citizens. The participants carried out this activity with enthusiasm; many were heard saying “I pledged I would pick up any litter I see” upon seeing litter and picking it up and disposing it of in trash cans.

This was an interesting activity for both the alumni as well as the participants, and YES alumni Pakistan received a very positive response from the students and school administrations alike. Many were inquisitive about future community-oriented activities. Here is to hoping that this energy for developing the community amongst the youth of today will transpire into something productive and positive of this beautiful country.

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