A Palestinian woman helps a boy make handicrafts with recycled materials at Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip, May 21, 2020. A group of seven Palestinian young women have launched a local initiative to recycle the residential waste into eco-friendly products as a step to reduce the environmental pollution.(Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)
by Sanaa Kamal
GAZA, May 30 (Xinhua) -- A group of seven Palestinian young women have launched a local initiative to recycle the residential waste into eco-friendly products as a step to reduce the environmental pollution.
Glass, plastic, cardboard, metal bottles and clothing are among the most common domestic waste in the Gaza Strip which suffers from the acute garbage issue.
According to a 2018 report of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the average household waste in the Gaza Strip stands at 2,150 tons every day.
Burning garbage is a standard tool used by the residents in the impoverished coastal enclave to get rid of the accumulated trash in dozens of places across Gaza.
However, burning does more harm than good.
"It is no longer a secret that burning can cause long-term health problems," said Etaf Hamad, an organizer of the initiative, adding that "living in an unhealthy environment is increasing the risk of viral infections including the coronavirus."
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in January and its quick spread across the globe, the World Health Organization has urged people to live in a healthy environment and maintain their hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.
That, however, has proven to be difficult in Gaza, said Hamad, stressing that Gazans are suffering from the lack of medical staff, equipment and treatment, which prompted her and a group of other volunteers to come up with the recycling initiative that aimed at protecting the environment.
Moreover, they are also trying to involve their children in the initiative.
Encouraging mothers like themselves, the organizers had shared their videos on Facebook, calling on others to join in.
The videos went viral, with many other women deciding to participate, said Hamad.
"Women are the ones who are raising children and can thus bring about the much needed change," Hamad explained.
Dania Abdul-Rahman from Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip was busy with her kids making soft puppets by using clothing and manufacturing flowerpots from plastic bottles.
The 42-year-old mother of five told Xinhua that she was worried about the spread of the virus in the most populated area, especially in light of medical equipment's shortage.
"The initiative has helped me to overcome my fears and take matters into my own hands, contributing to the creation of a healthy environment," explained Abdul-Rahman, who also taught her kids on the basics of the recycling.
In addition to that, Abdul-Rahman uses her newly acquired talent to make some money by making small puppets used as accessories for wedding halls and birthday parties.
Earning about 150 U.S. dollars a month, she said that it is enough to support her family amid the current uncertainty.
Another volunteer, Lamees Ahmed, who is only 11 years old, showed her friends a small bag that she has just made by herself from her old blouse.
"My mother taught me how to use my old clothes to turn them into something completely different," the young girl told Xinhua, adding that she will encourage her friends to adopt the recycling mechanism.
"Such initiatives will help the community to reduce their waste that could harm the environment," Chairman of National Institute for Environment and Development Ahmed Hilles told Xinhua, adding that 80 percent of Gaza's waste is made of organic constituents.
He noted that his institute had implemented dozens of initiatives to help the local families reduce their domestic waste and recycle most of the organic garbage.
"The Palestinian government, as well as the area's various environmental institutes have to support all youth initiatives that help the people to protect themselves from the disease," Hilles added.