Green Spaces in the city of Al-Raqqa, “Plant but one Tree”

Green Spaces in the city of Al-Raqqa, “Plant but one Tree”

After surviving a long and arduous period marked by fierce battles and shelling that resulted in major destruction, residents of the city of Raqqa were left with many unmet needs and faltering infrastructure.

Shabab Oxygen organization has decided to take matters into its own hands and attempt, through the Father Paolo grant for community projects, to help create more green spaces across the city of Raqqa by planting trees in school yards, public parks and median street strips. The project was titled “Plant but one Tree.”

The project was accompanied by an awareness campaign on the importance of trees and their positive impact on both people’s lives and the environment.

The project provided job opportunities for 18 people while the organizers were sure to have it executed in the best way possible by guaranteeing  that residents and students weren’t disturbed by the noise.

The team also worked to guarantee the project’s long-term sustainability and ensured that the trees will be looked after once the project is completed, by signing a MoU with the civil council of the city and the Organization Affairs Bureau while also coordinating logistics with the city’s education committee and the people’s municipality.

The organizers also worked on disposing of rubble after cleaning schools.

Schools were chosen from among the most functioning and the ones to be back in service in the new school year program. The target schools were checked for explosive remnants of war and declared  landmine-free.

In collaboration with the local municipality’s  environment committee, most suitable tree species were chosen while planting schedules were coordinated with the education committee in order to avoid obstructing the educational process and disturbing students.

A total of 9 schools were cleaned while their playgrounds were prepared for tree planting, ensuring water was available via tanks to irrigate the newly-planted shrubs.

In parallel and as cleaning and planting work was ongoing, a professional painter worked on murals across target schools, additionally, awareness pamphlets were distributed and educational sessions aimed at students and their parents were held to stress the vital importance of trees both aesthetically and environmentally, as seminars were held to educate them on the health benefits of trees and how to best take care of them and preserve them.

Fortunately, available resources allowed for additional schools to be included in the cleaning project which were not part of the organization’s initial plan. Trees were planted in their parks, increasing the number of benefitting schools.

Both teachers and students gave positive feedback regarding the project, despite knowing that there are other needs that still need to be fulfilled. The awareness murals were particularly well-received by the students, giving the school building life due to the vibrant colors, replacing destruction and rubble.

A lot of effort and time still need to be put in the city of Al-Raqqa, in order for it to go back to life and regain its past glory, however, the “Plant but One Sprout” project conducted by Shabab Oxygen organization provided a touch of beauty and color to the city which inspired optimism in students’ hearts who constitute the future.