A group of five Bangladeshi girls beat out competition from around the world with their idea for a project aimed at green urbanisation, bringing home the prize of HK$20,000 as seed money from global charity foundation 24 Hour Race.
Over a period of 3 months, teams from around the world worked on creating projects to combat a social issue of their choosing. Together with the Hong Kong-based 24 Hour Race team, they brainstormed, planned, and started working towards their goals.
On August 18, ReLeaf from Dhaka was announced as the winning project. The five winning girls are Shebonti Khandaker, Ramisa Kabir, Raida Siddiqui, Raiyan Khan and Sejal Rahman. In the final round, they were up against competition from students attending world-renowned universities such as Oxford, Warwick and the University of Pennsylvania.
Their project, ReLeaf, aims to popularise urban gardening within their immediate environment in Dhaka utilising advances in technology. The girls have outlined a plan to connect nurseries located in different parts of the capital with its residents using an app, that can be used to purchase plants from the nurseries.
In addition to the plants, tubs, fertilisers, soil and other gardening materials will be available on this online platform. In addition, gardeners can be hired online to look after the plants.
ReLeaf ranked among the top 10 projects selected in the first round, and in the second round lasting about 6 to 8 weeks, they and other teams worked on their campaigns noting suggestions from the organisers to fine-tune their ideas.
Raida, Sejal, Shebonti and Ramisha focused on data collection, content development, and the presentation, while Raiyan worked on graphics and website development.
The girls created a demo website, and presented the whole project in front of the judges through a virtual presentation. The judges’ verdict was weighted alongside a popular online vote in determining the final result.
Shebonti Khandaker and Sejal Rahman are students of class XII at Sunbeams; Raida Siddiqui is studying in the same class at The Aga Khan School. Raiyan Khan has completed her A-levels from Sunnydale, and Ramisha Kabir is studying at LPC United World College in Hong Kong.
Speaking on the vision behind their project, Shebonti said, “At ReLeaf, our concern is that Dhaka’s lush green spaces are being lost in the wake of rapid urbanisation. We hope to engage every city-dweller in restoring these spaces within their own homes, by providing accessible gardening solutions and creating a passionate community of urban gardeners.”
Ramisha attributes ReLeaf’s success to each team member giving their best, while Sejal made sure to acknowledge the role played by their family members in their achieving this feat.
The best news of all comes from Raida, who disclosed that she and her teammates are already at work to implement the project using the seed money they received, and barring any mishaps, ReLeaf is on course to start providing some much-needed relief to residents of the capital from early next year.