Over a hundred Dawoodi Bohra students of Taiyebiyah Primary School in Surat participated in a rally on December 20th to raise awareness and inspire action against the growing menace of plastic pollution which is destroying entire marine ecosystems. The rally was led by Adv. Afroz Shah, Environmentalist and UN Champion of the Earth, who has recently joined hands with the Dawoodi Bohra community for the campaign titled ‘Turning the Tide’ Against Plastic Pollution. The program was initiated by the community’s philanthropic initiative, Project Rise, which strives to provide access to adequate nourishment, healthcare, hygiene, and sanitation that lead to a better quality of life.

Dawoodi Bohras, Students, Rally, Plastic Pollution, Turning the Tide, Afroz Shah, Tapti River, Surat
Dawoodi Bohra students rally near Tapti River in Surat to raise awareness and inspire action against plastic pollution

A brief talk was given by Adv Afroz Shah to students before the rally regarding the importance of combating plastic pollution in schools and at homes. Soon after the talk, the rally commenced from the historic Zaini Bungalow and traversed Dutch Garden Road before reaching Tapti River. The students carried banners and placards highlighting messages on marine litter and the need to preserve the health of oceans and water bodies for future generations. 14-year-old Sarrah Kanchwala who carried the message ‘Planet or Plastic?’ shared that she participated in the rally and river cleanup program to create awareness that collective public effort is required to stop plastic pollution and safeguard our marine life and environment at large.

Dawoodi Bohras, Students, Cleanup, Plastic Pollution, Plastic Waste, Afroz Shah, Environment, Turning the Tide, Project Rise
Students from Taiyebiyah Primary School cleaning up plastic waste from the banks of Tapti River in Surat

Speaking at the event, Mr Afroz Shah, who is synonymous with the world’s largest beach cleanup project in Versova (Mumbai), shared ‘Protection and preservation of river, lakes and oceans should be expressed manifestly in ground action. Love for the country and love for the planet should be expressed similarly. Dawoodi Bohra community has been working with me not only in Mumbai but now in Surat too. Our activities range from cleaning of rivers/oceans to getting circular economy in lives. Community development is the key to solve this massive problem of plastic pollution. We have to beat plastic pollution and not plastic.’

‘Today I spent time with students from Taiyebiyah school in Surat. Our conversation started on how to turn the tide against plastic pollution and finally concluded with the cleaning a portion of the bank of river Tapti,’ he added

During his two-day visit to the Diamond City , Mr Shah is also expected to interact with students and faculty of the community’s principal educational institute, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, and hold special assemblies with community officials and clergy to take action against single-use plastics especially during community events.

The ‘Turning the Tide’ movement has been rolled out as part of the 75th birthday celebrations of the 53rd Dai al-Mutlaq and head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS. Besides creating awareness against plastic pollution and cleaning water bodies, community members have also regularly taken up environmental programs including cleanliness drives and tree plantation activities in the neighbourhood. In Surat, for instance, community members are joining efforts to plant and nurture nearly 10,000 trees in the city to mark the birthday of His Holiness TUS.

Thousands of Dawoodi Bohras from all parts of the world are expected to arrive in Surat next week to join the birthday celebrations of His Holiness TUS in the city. Keeping the size and scale of the event in mind, members are striving hard to make this a ‘Zero Waste’ event like the recent ones successfully managed in Mumbai and Indore.