• Brought together 470 participants to remove litter at target sites in 24 cities
• Reached over 32,000 online viewers who engaged with the events virtually
• Promoted intercultural dialogue between participants in the US and Russia through bilingual online trainings
On October 10th, 2020, teams of volunteers from 24 different cities in the US and Russia participated in the The Clean Games, a team competition aimed at cleaning up natural areas and promoting sustainable practices. Our project aimed to motivate young people to advocate for a cleaner environment in their communities, by unifying and exchanging experience with their counterparts in Russia and the US. Through the interactive competitive format of Clean Games, we provided a platform for organizers and participants to work together in real time to remove trash and beautify their community. This need became particularly acute in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. At a time when young people are isolated and cooped up at home, our project was useful for motivating them to explore new opportunities in global ecological activism.
Beyond simply providing the resources and protocol for executing socially distanced Clean Games, this project aimed
to encourage dialogue on innovative ideas for ecological advocacy among organizers. It is for this reason we developed the eco-forum, a 3-hour bilingual meeting with a trainer where organizers engaged in dialogue on opportunities for ecological advocacy between Russia and the US. Where is their common-ground for environmental work? In what
can we learn from each other? How does the ecological culture differ between our two countries?
This Game was held held with the support of the Eurasia Foundation and the US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange Program.
The Aral Sea Crisis is rooted in the region’s history. Since Antiquity, Silk Road cities in Khorezm and Karakalpakstan were heavily dependent on their water sources. Because of this, ancient civilizations treated the Aral with care; Zoroastrians, who built the famous Chilpyk Kala, even revered water as a sacred element. Today, there are many archaeological heritage sites that attest to this relationship between man and water.
In the spirit of artistic revival and activism, we brought together a team of young international artists to produce a collaborative series devoted to such sites. WARC selected three young composers from Singapore, Tashkent and Karakalpakstan to collaborate with filmmaker Elzhon Abassov to score a new art film on the Aral. The piece premiered in April 2019.
Aralim also independently curated an interactive exhibit at the Tashkent Biennale and at schools and orphanages across the country over 2018. The exhibit uses a form of traditional water painting called "Abru Bahor" to help children materialize the Aral's revival. The drawings by Karakalpak children were exhibited in Tashkent on an interactive floor model of the Aral Sea.
Community Partners: Eco-Movement of Uzbekistan, Aralim Arts Group
Built a team of young ecological artists from the US and Central Asia
Developed a series of multimedia artworks devoted to the relationship between human society and the biosphere
Promoted tourism to heritage sites near the Aral
Aralim Arts Initiative
Project Buyrachi and Muynak Revival (March-August 2018)
• 2,200 fruit and poplar trees planted
• School children identified needs for future projects
• Educational program organized
In March 2018, we traveled to Buyrachi and Moynaq, Uzbekistan to plant fruit and poplar trees which would help detoxify soil and provide a sustainable source of nutrition for local inhabitants, many of whom suffer of anemia. In partnership with the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, Buyrachi School #38 and Xokimyat of Moynak, we planted 2,200 various fruit trees and poplar trees, including apple, apricot, plum, and cherry. We also planted poplar trees, which metabolize harmful toxins, revitalize the local ecosystem and stabilize soil.
We also led an educational program on environmental activism for 40 local high-schoolers . Via sessions on environmental advocacy and project management, we helped students develop their own project proposals.
This project was funded by individual donors from our Adopt A Tree Program and Columbia University.
Community Partners: Aral Eko Tur, Eco-Movement of Uzbekistan, The Youth Union of Uzbekistan, Moynaq Xokimyat, Khorezm Forestry, Buyrachi High School #38
1000 apple, pear, apricot, cherry trees planted in Buyrachi School #38
150 apple/pear trees, 60 meters of grapes, and 40 bushes of roses planted at Urgench School #2
1050 apple, pear, apricot and cherry trees distributed to needy families, nursery, children's camp, and forestry in Muynak
2 industrial water pumps donated to Urgench School #2 and Muynak Hospital to allow for year-round irrigation
School materials for 270 students distributed to 4 schools in Khorezm and Karakalpakstan
Children's art and poetry competition on theme of "Rebirth for the Aral" in Buyrachi School #38
Muynak Summit- March 2018
• Proposal for joint cooperation over tree planting and greenhouse construction with the Muynak Hokimyat
Following the completion of Project Buyrachi Revival, WARC organized a 2-day summit for partnering government agencies and NGOs in Muynak. Muynak is a 4 hours drive from Khorezm, and most participating leaders never have never had a chance to visit and collaborate with the municipality, which has been the most hard hit by the Aral Crisis. Participants met with the Hokim (Mayor) and local NGOs in order to discuss common methods for restoring the pre-Aral ecology and potential avenues for partnership.
Participating organizations: NGO Nur Va Xayot, the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, the State Committee for Protection of the Environment, Buyrachi School #38, the Muynak Forestry, the Khorezm Ministry for Education, the Muynak Hokimyat, Muynak School #3
Urgench Soup Kitchen
• 40 pensioners served
In August 2017, as our first project, we organized a soup kitchen for the elderly in Urgench, Uzbekistan. Working with a local community home, we funded the preparation of meals for local senior citizens in need.
An area affected by poor crop growth, Khorezm's local communities are affected by widespread malnutrition, especially among the elderly.
Warm Clothes Drive
• 1 school and 10 families received packages of warm clothes
The desiccation of the Aral Sea has resulted in a major climactic shift in Western Uzbekistan. Summers are extremely hot and winters, extremely cold. In December, 2016, we organized a warm clothes drive for children and families in Muynak afflicted by illnesses. The overwhelming support we received in Philadelphia helped anemic children gain access to quality clothes for the winter.
On our March 2018 trip, we will be bringing the remainder of the clothes gathered to families in need in Buyrachi.
Khorezm Region: Investing in Sustainable
Water Solutions 2018/2019
• 3 drip line systems and training in Bogot and Urgench, Khorezm
• 3 reverse osmosis filters in Bogot, Shovot and Yangiarik, Khorezm
• 4 educational programs hosted in Bogot, Shovot, Yangiarik and Muynak
The effects of water depletion in the Aral Basin are very visible. Schoolchildren in Buyrachi only have access to highly saline groundwater. Many of their hands are bloated and discolored, a sign of anemia. Local irrigation methods are often counterproductive towards water sustainability. Although there are simple solutions to these problems, communities simply cannot afford them.
We worked with local schools and farmers to install drip line irrigation and reverse osmosis systems, the two most effective methods to save and cleanse water. Drip-line irrigation facilitates long-term water efficiency on farms, therefore helping reduce the continual water depletion that led to the crisis. Reverse osmosis (RO) filters at schools remove salt from salinized groundwater, preventing anemia among rural children.
Donors: Coca-Cola Foundation, Private Donors
Community Partners: Eco-Movement of Uzbekistan, Khorezm Schools #5, 7, 33, and 38; Marsel Bek, Patiort Galla and Rahimbergan Farms, OOO Debyut
Building a Unified Front for Environmental Advocacy Among Youth in Uzbekistan
For our March 2019 project, we will bring college students from the urban centers of Tashkent and Urgench to rural villages in Khorezm, where they will serve as mentors for local high school students, and work together on various environmental projects.
This project aims to empower rural youth to advocate for the ecological well-being of their community on national platforms to alter stereotypes and build bridges between rural and urban youth.
Donors: Coca-Cola Foundation, Private Donors
Community Partners: Eco-Movement of Uzbekistan, Tashkent Chemical-Technological Institute, Khorezm Schools #5, 7, 33, and 38
9 university students from Tashkent, Urgench and Nukus and the United States led a 4-hour interactive
program on ecological advocacy in Schools #5, #7, and #33 in Khorezm. Topics discussed: differences in
urban/rural attitudes towards the environment, the benefits of pursuing higher education, cooperation of
urban/rural communities regarding the environment.