Saudi Heritage Commission registers 101 new historic sites

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JEDDAH: Every Friday before dawn, Jimrey Buntas Dapin gets on a bus with his group and travels to the deserts of Riyadh to pick up trash and plant trees in support of the Saudi Green Initiative.

Dapin, 29, is one of five Filipino co-founders for the Saudi Green Initiative, a group established in 2020 after drawing inspiration from the work of other voluntary bodies, the Environmental Green Horizons Society and Green Daqla.

As the Saudi Green Initiative seeks to fight climate change and improve the quality of life for future generations, Dapin and his group have found that their volunteer work also allows them to give back to Saudi Arabia.

“Working in Saudi Arabia has given me a great life here, and it has improved my family’s lifestyle in the Philippines. So, I feel a responsibility to give back to society,” Dapin said.

“My simple way of giving back to society was to plant trees and clean up the desert. We live here in the same space and the same ecosystem, so it is everyone’s responsibility.

Dapin, who works at a Riyadh-based company, is also a certified social studies teacher. He encourages his students and peers to “participate in social and civic responsibilities.”

With all of the Kingdom’s major goals aligned with Vision 2030, Filipinos use the year as a number to be achieved by each member – in terms of garbage bags collected and trees planted.

In October, the group had 200 volunteers, collected 356 bags of waste and planted 100 trees. They have organized more than 10 clean-up campaigns in Heet Caves Park, Sha’ib Luha and other parts of southern Riyadh. During one of their recent trips, the group collected 3,000 plastic bottles in just five hours in the Red Sand area. All waste collected is delivered to a local recycling facility.

“For cleanup campaigns, we check with our friends in public places and research the location before embarking on the journey,” Dapin said.

Dapin said he started with a handful of community members who were passionate about the environment, but photos of their work on Twitter caught the eye and grabbed the attention.

One of the people who saw the social media posts was Mary Abigail Pajarillo, who works as a public diplomacy assistant at the Philippine Embassy in the Kingdom. “I have resided in the Kingdom since I was three years old. For me, (the) Kingdom is my first home. I saw one of Jimrey’s posts on Twitter, and it piqued my curiosity as I had no idea that a group of Filipinos were volunteering for such activity. Whenever I’m free, I’m always ready to join.

For Reine Baquiano, a Filipino engineer, joining the group also means learning about social work. “Volunteering is a first for me and I’ve come to appreciate it and learn as I go along.”

Dapin said he and his team needed a week to plan a trip that included meetings with authorities, travel arrangements, buying trash bags, gloves, food and water. for participants and the creation of social media posts before and after the trip. while juggling full-time jobs.

“It’s all about commitment and love for the environment here in the Kingdom.”

Once everything is ready, the volunteers “get up at 3 a.m. every weekend to do their part for their home, Saudi Arabia.”

SAPTCO, a transportation company, provides free transportation for the group as part of its social responsibility program.

Several Good Samaritans and organizations, including Tadweer, Dunkin Donuts and Romansiah, offer their support to the group.

Their work drew praise on Twitter from Saudis. Although overwhelmed with all the support and encouragement, Dapin believes that “Caring for and protecting the environment is everyone’s responsibility, not just citizens and government.”

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