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I believe that small actions have large importance

Ia is a young activist from Georgia who is passionate about environmental protection and social justice. For Ia, activism means empowering others and making small contributions to bring about positive change. She aims to engage more diverse groups in her activities and encourages everyone to believe in themselves and their ability to become a positive change-maker.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who’s Ia?

I’m Ia from Georgia from a village named Martkopi. I’m a 10th grader and a young activist.

Where did your journey start?

It all started four years ago when I was a sixth grader. I was an active youngster, a part of a school club. I wanted to gain new experience in the beginning. I decided to take part in an eco-club at my school. That is when it all started.

First of all, I was part of planning small activities with my school eco-club members. I got more involved when I found out about the initiative called eco-leaders, which was the turning point. It was an extraordinary activity held by the environmental and education center of Georgia. It was a short-term course about different matters of the environment. The connections I made there, the people and the information were incredible. After that I became a chair of my eco-club.

I started to plan activities in this eco-club by myself. I slowly started reaching out of my school and now I’m doing activities in my whole village. And not only that, I’m working outside of my village too. I’m also trying to take part in international projects.

What kind of projects are you working on? 

I’m planning various projects in my youth center and these projects are about not only environmental problems and environmental protection. We focus on human rights, democracy, tolerance, equality, so on. But what I enjoy most is speaking about environmental matters. I organize clean-ups in my village, different workshops, flea markets focusing on upcycling, and in our youth center, we started a recycling project. What I’m really proud of is the fact that my village is the first village in Georgia where we have recycling infrastructure. There is no recycling culture as in the rest of Europe yet. 

We also host many information projects and meetings, because we feel it is important to raise awareness of our generation and the older generations. For example, I once held a training about ecological human rights with my friend.

What are the communities that you are engaging? 

In the youth center there are mostly people my age, around 14 to 18 years old. But as we try to reach out to all kinds of groups and communities, youth are not the only group we are working with. We are working with the “young parents” as well, people who are around 30 to 40 years old. We are also working with different local businesses in our region, we are also working with the municipality sector, different private and public institutions like schools in our village or different youth clubs. 

What are the most pressing environmental issues of your region or Georgia that you care about?

People have no information. People need information first and then they can recycle and start caring about the wildlife in Georgia. Georgia’s nature is really mysterious and really beautiful. And the people don’t know about the ways they can help to protect it.

We are changing that. In Georgia we need to simply speak more about the environmental problems and help the people to understand it first.

What does activism mean to you?

I really care about empowering other people. In activism, it is sometimes difficult to see that you are making an impact. But with a little patience and time you will be able to see that there is a lot of meaning in the activities that you do. 

I believe that you can become a change-maker in your community with small contributions, through small things like a clean-up in your village. 

It’s a small contribution but it’s a really big step.

“I have this motto: think globally, act locally.”

Remember that any action has an impact and with the right motivation and company you can help the environment on the local level and slowly send a ripple effect elsewhere.

What do you think you would need to engage more people in your movement and in your activities?

We definitely need better mobilisation techniques to engage more diverse groups in our activities. Especially different generations and people with fewer opportunities, should be on our radar. But we also need good strategies to stay motivated and empower each other in our community, so that our work is sustainable.

If you could send a message out to these people that you would like to engage more, what would you tell them? 

Always believe in yourself. Because if you do, you will start to understand that anything is possible. In that way, you will start to bring positive change and be able to become a positive change-maker.

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