"At the young age of 12, Kehkashan Basu from the United Arab Emirates, has attended Rio +20 among other international conferences, founded Green Hope UAE - her own organization, and, last February 2013, she was elected as one of the Global Coordinators for the Major Groups for Children and Youth. "
What inspires you?
Kehkashan considers her parents to be her greatest inspiration because, from early on, they had inculcated the idea that she had a mission to accomplish. Being born on World Environment Day (June 5th), she felt pre-ordained to become a crusader for environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity conservation. Since then, she has been involved in numerous conferences like Rio +20, various awareness campaigns and workshops that are mostly aimed towards youth. From her experiences, she acquires leadership qualities and values from other youth and professionals who work in different fields. She stresses that age should not be a barrier for anyone, and young people can do just as much as anyone else.
Tell us about an issue that matters to you and how you became aware and involved.
Issues that matter most to Kehkashan are the environment, poverty eradication, and gender bias. In particular, she is passionate about education for young girls. Since she was a child, her parents had already informed her about different global issues and encouraged her to get involved in different projects and campaigns. When she was eight years-old, she believed she could accomplish her first action on her own, so she planted her first tree. Now, Kehkhashan has planted 150 trees all over the world – from the UAE to Kenya, India, Brazil, and Indonesia. She started this tree-planting project independently, but now it is one of her organization’s many environmental projects.
Share your perspectives on what makes a good leader.
According to the young leader, good leadership qualities entail interacting well with other members of the group, and acting as role model for other people. When Khekashan was elected for the UNEP Global Coordinator for Youth, she was ecstatic and hopeful. Through TakingItGlobal’s sponsorship, Kehkashan attended the TUNZA Youth Conference and acted as a workshop facilitator in the UNEP governing council. When she took office she was told to involve as many children and youth to the UNEP’s agenda, and she did just that in the conferences she attended and even among her schoolmates back home in the UAE. Her school, which she proudly notes is working towards becoming greener, is extremely supportive of her work. In addition, she is using the leadership qualities she’s acquired to inspire her friends and get them involved in giving back to their community.
Do you think TakingITGlobal can help you achieve some of your goals? Have we already?
Kehkhashan found out about TakingITGlobal when she met Liam, TIG’s Online Community Manager, at Rio +20. After surfing the net and visiting our website, she loved the fact that we showcase the work youth have done all over the world. TIG has helped Kehkashan through the nomination to get her to participate in the TUNZA Youth Conference, and for that she is extremely thankful. She hopes to collaborate more with TIG and get Green Hope UAE involved with our online community in the near future. Kehkashan acknowledges that an online community is a great tool to know what other people are doing in their environment, and using those models and applying them in other places. It was, after all, going online and seeing Wangari Maathai plant trees that had motivated this young girl to plant her first tree – a symbol of her personal growth and global achievements. If there’s one message Kehkashan could leave with to inspire the youth, and the members of TIG in particular, it would be, “you’re never too young or too old to get involved in saving the environment.” As an online community for civically engaged youth, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.