"It was two years ago that Mr. President announced his plan to ride a bicycle instead of a limousine for the purpose of keeping the air clean. His secretaries, however, did not agree with his adventure, worrying for his safety. Nevertheless, he just went on riding and nothing could stop him."
So goes just one of the 18 tales included in a book of environmental children's stories written by 13-year-old Wahn Lee of Korea. The book - 130 pages - took him three years to complete. At the beginning of his project, Wahn carefully researched his stories' protagonists. He went to libraries and the Government Offices of the Environment to find facts on environmental problems as well as earthworms and ants - one of his favourite subjects. He also designed the book's jacket and painted the pictures it features. Wahn carries his concern for the environment beyond the book's pages. Last year at school, where he was president of the student body, he helped manage a recycling store that generated profits used to buy food and clothes for a senior citizen's home.
Since 1991, Wahn Lee has received numerous awards and prizes in recognition of his environmental activities, including the prevention of water pollution and recycling (1991). Utilization of waste materials and the invention of a central heating apparatus using burning waste (1991); use of waste materials and its economic benefits which awakened people's consciousness (1992); recycling campaign (1992); recycling campaign using waste from left over food (1993); campaign dealing with the sandy dust phenomena from China which has had a negative impact on Korea's environment (1995).
The awards were given by the Ministry of the Environment, the Korean Boy Scouts Federation, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Invention Association. He has done a great deal to promote environmental awareness through the media, and has been interviewed on radio, television and by the print media on numerous occasions.
Fatih Yilmaz comes from Eastern Anatolia, one of the least developed regions in Turkey. He is a young and dedicated environmentalist both in his school and in his village. He is a founding member of the environment club which is active in tree planting and beautification projects. Together with this Club, he planted over 10,000 trees in his village where most people are illiterate. He initiated an erosion control project in the farm land by forming a barrier with shrubs and trees.
In 1993, he participated in an essay competition organized by the Turkish Foundation for Combatting Soil Erosion, Reforestation and the Protection of the Natural Habitats (TEMA), and his paper on soil erosion: Causes and Losses won second prize. Fatih, in cooperation with TEMA, informed the local community about gully erosion and its prevention.
He continued to be a successful mobilizer of his community and the resources available to them. He organizes workshops to raise environmental awareness, and speaks about environmental problems in local radio and television stations. He also lobbies and gives proposals to the provincial municipality on proper sanitation and infrastructure, in an effort to prevent pollution in the nearby river. Fatih initiated recycling activities in the area, and has contacted the local traffic police to prevent noise pollution.