Murai on a mission to save Ja - Japanese volunteer launches recycling project in St Mary
THREE HILLS, St Mary:
A Japanese volunteer in Three Hills, St Mary, has launched an innovative, eco-friendly scheme to help local farmers increase their revenues and learn more about the benefits of recycling.
Community development officer Arisa Murai says in the eight months since her arrival, she has fallen in love with Jamaica, but fears that the island could suffer extensive environmental damage unless more is done to stop littering and the pollution of coastal waters.
In an attempt to make use of the tons of harmful garbage that lays scattered across St Mary and its vulnerable coastline, Murai plans to build a greenhouse made of plastic bottles that will help farmers in Three Hills increase and improve productivity.
Speaking last week, Murai, who works for the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and is stationed in the office of the local Parish Development Committee, told Rural Xpress: "I see a lot of plastic and garbage on the street, and adults throwing trash out of car windows, so I'd really like to change people's behaviour and state of mind towards their own environment and country.
"I've been working with the Three Hills Farmers' Association and found them to be a really proactive group who try to develop their community. I got the idea for a plastic greenhouse from the Internet and thought it would be great if we could develop one. It's just like a regular greenhouse, but instead of using vinyl, we use plastic bottles and materials like binding wire and wood.
"After it's built, we'll plant and grow fruits and vegetables, which the farmers can sell to raise income, and maybe generate some money in the future. I really want this to make money because the greenhouse project is just the beginning; we want to expand into an ecopark with chairs, tables, and playground material made out of plastic bottles.
"By building this greenhouse, I want to raise awareness within the community, and then maybe throughout the rest of Jamaica because if we can create something beneficial out of plastic bottles for this community. I think people will really change how they look at their garbage."
Earlier this month, Murai held a workshop led by recycling and manufacture experts 360 Cycle to officially introduce the project to the farmers in Three Hills and plans to complete construction of the greenhouse within the next eight weeks.
Looking forward, the charity worker hopes to remain in Jamaica after her assignment is finished as she believes the country has great potential.
"St Mary is really beautiful," said Murai. "There is so much to develop, but the environment is really amazing, and the people are much warmer than in Kingston (laughs). To me, St Mary is the best parish; I really love it here.
"I just wish there was more unity. Right now, Jamaica is developing rapidly, and I think that's one of the reasons people have become selfish and only look out for their own personal interests. But for a community or country to develop, people need to work together to make things happen."