Sabrina Yamani and her daughter Hayyat plant milkweed at the woodland community centre

The Courier of Montgomery County

The Dawoodi Bohra community has made taking care of the earth an integral part of how they practice their religion. Along with recognising Earth Day, the community plans to construct a new house of worship that incorporates environmentally friendly practices including solar panels.

The Dawoodi Bohra community, a branch of the Shiite sect of Islam, recently celebrated Earth Day by constructing a butterfly garden out of single-use plastics that community members collected. They then planted milkweed to attract butterflies. Taking care of their community is a fundamental aspect of the Dawoodi Bohra faith and for the community in The Woodlands.

The community hopes to be breaking ground on a renovation of their place of worship within the next six to eight months. Following construction, spokeswoman Sabrina Yamani said there will be a dedicated pollinator garden and they hope to add a rainwater recycling system and solar panels.

Educating children about taking care of the environment is a large part of what the community is doing.

‘You can educate the adults, but the adults are aware of what to do. We’re trying to get to the next generation,’ Yamani said. ‘We start with the kids and if we can get the kids interested, and motivated, and involved, then they’re going to carry it forward.’

This stands true in her own house. Hayyat Yamani, a 13-year-old with a passion for environmentalism and Sabrina’s daughter, has done plenty of research on how bad plastic is for the earth, and makes it a point to share her knowledge with everyone in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

‘I’ve always felt that it’s really important that we respect nature and that we help it, because currently we’re kind of destroying everything,’ Hayyat said.

Dispose of your trash responsibly, recycle and be more mindful of the environment so you don’t destroy it are some of the tips Hayyat wants people to keep in mind.

‘And spread the word,’ she said, encouraging people to talk about how they can be more environmentally conscious.

Last month the community planted 53 native trees, in collaboration with The Woodlands Township, at its place of worship. Each tree was adopted by a member of the community and before they were planted, the members consulted with local Texas A&M forestry experts to make sure the trees they chose would thrive and wouldn’t be invasive.

The next project will be to create a pollinator garden, which includes specific plants and structures that attract bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinating creatures. They started the butterfly garden with plans to expand and will be working on it every few weeks.

Project Rise is a global philanthropic initiative established by the Dawoodi Bohras in 2018 with wide-ranging goals to improve the world through community action.

‘This is something that we as a community world-wide are working towards,’ Yamani said. ‘We’re taught to respect the country that you’re living in, protect the country you’re living in and protect the environment.’

The local environmental projects that the community takes on are part of the larger Project Rise mission. Turning The Tide is a Project Rise initiative that focuses on eliminating single-use plastics and cleaning water bodies of plastic pollution. Each community takes its own approach to the Project Rise initiatives and in The Woodlands the community is turning single-use plastics into bird feeders, while finding ways to stop using single-use plastics when possible.

‘Being involved with the environment and being involved in taking care of our earth and leading by example,’ Sabrina Yamani said. ‘If we’re doing it, our children are going to learn.’

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