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" A dream for climate justice.
A dream for a healthy planet.
A dream for a fairer world, for all. "
If you haven't yet heard of Dr Mya-Rose Craig then listen up, as this incredible young woman of British-Bangladeshi descent, at the age of just 19, has already long been making serious waves within the environmental movement and campaign against climate change. In February 2020 she became the youngest British person to be awarded an honorary doctorate in science from Bristol University, in recognition of her five years of campaigning for diversity in the environmental sector. Her extraordinary book 'We Have a Dream' gives a voice to 30 young indigenous people of colour protecting the planet.
" Indigenous people and people of colour are disproportionately affected by Climate Change. And yet they are under-represented within the environmental movement. Not anymore. "
Fondly known as 'Bird Girl', Mya-Rose has been passionate about birds since childhood and is quoted as being the 'youngest to see half of the world's species of birds.' We are truly honoured to have the opportunity to explore the world through her binoculars. How old were you when you first realised how captivated you were by these intriguing animals?
I’ve been bird watching literally all my life, my first trip out was when I was only 9 days old. My family took me to see a lesser kestrel that had flown over from Europe. I also have early memories from a holiday to Madeira when I was three, going out on a boat looking for seabirds. I can remember that really well, that’s my earliest memory.
Where have you travelled to and which bird was the most memorable?
One of the most memorable birds I have seen is a Harpy Eagle, the biggest eagle in the world which lives in South America. There’s only a relatively low number of them left as their rainforest habitat is being destroyed. It is difficult to see them for this reason. Once, when I was eight years old and going to Ecuador, I had looked through the book and became determined to see one but it wasn’t until 10 years later that I saw one in Brazil, sitting in a tree and looking down on me like I was a potential dinner. It was an incredible experience, especially as it was the bird that took me to half the birds of the world.How would you encourage children today to become aware of the plight that birds face?
Since I was 11 years old I have been campaigning about environmental issues raising $35,000 to clean up an oil spill in Bangladesh and when I was 13 I launched my first nature camp for young minority ethnic people. The camps are really important for me. They focus on nature and get people connected with it. So, when I got the opportunity to write a children’s book, the thing that I really wanted to communicate was that you can make change no matter how big or small or old or young you are – if you care about something, you can go out and try and make it better. My book, We Have a Dream, profiles 30 different young environmental activists of colour, especially indigenous people, and most come from outside the West. With events like COP26 coming up it’s important all these voices are heard.
What are the first steps for a child to hone an interest in bird watching? Is this something that can begin at home in their own garden?
Morning is the best time for spotting activity in the garden but you get more birds if you put food out. Lakes are also a really good place to start because the birds are just sitting there and you can pick out loads of different species. We always take the young people on our camps to the lake, that’s always good, and a telescope is great in that setting but you can also make out closer birds with binoculars or even just looking without any equipment, you don’t always need loads of gear.
Can you share a bird that is top on your list that you are still yet to see out in the wild in its natural habitat?
Yes, there are a few birds I have not seen in the UK – there’s the Little Auk which is a tiny little bird that flied out to sea. I managed to see one in the Arctic when I went there last year. They fly in from the East coast of the UK but as I live in the southwest, I have never bumped into one.
on her remarkable journey to change the way the world spins.
Her book will soon be available from our bookshop
so stay tuned for its imminent launch.