Taking Back the Streets

الثلاثاء 22 تموز 2008

Kids cleaning their street

Written By Mariam A. Adas and Ramsey Tesdell

AMMAN – What does one do when your neighborhood, the place you live and play in, fills up with trash? For one thing, you don’t wait for the municipality to do something. For a handful of youngsters in Ashrafiyya, the best way to clean up their neighborhood was to do it themselves.

On a dead-end street in a neighborhood of Ashrafiyya in South Amman, trash covered the ground.  The street was filled with leftover construction materials and various people dumping the trash from their home in the street. The situation only mildly improved when the municipality placed a dumpster roughly a year ago.

Ameen Sanjaqieh brought the neighborhood together under the slogan “Clean at Home, Clean everywhere.” Sanjaqieh, Yeasin and Muhammed are the main forces behind the initiative, both 16. “There is only one street sweeper that comes through, and he doesn’t do that good of a job. We decided that we needed to help.”

Not only do the kids think that cleaning up their neighborhood was a good things to do, but it also helped them realize that most of the trash was coming from their own homes. This realization led to the group placing their trash in the dumpster instead of on the ground.

Farah, 9, said that now, after helping clean up her neighborhood, she doesn’t throw her trash on the street, Yeasinbut takes a few extra steps and tosses in the dumpster.

“Before this work,” Farah told 7iber.com, “I threw my garbage on the ground, but now, I don’t.”

Yeasin added, “We cleaned up because we wanted to have a clean and safe place to play. It only made sense that we cleaned up ourselves.”

The project has impacted the kids on different levels; they help keep their neighborhood clean and have developed a sense of investment in their community. When deciding to clean up, they took the street back as their own.

The mothers of the kids are very supportive of their children’s efforts. Previously, before the street had a dumpster, the mothers would send their kids to take out the trash, and there wasn’t a dumpster. Where else would the trash go but on the street?

Nadia’a Mirdia, the woman supporting the kids says she has offered only a little help, but most of the initiative came from the kids themselves.

“If people came to work on a house, they would leave the debris on the side of the street,” Yeasin told 7iber.com. “Once, a family ate fish for dinner and threw the remains on the street and it attracted cats of all Amman. After this project, we won’t let things like that happen again.”

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