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November 19, 2020

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‘Water pollution threatens public health and fish’

PAKISTANI Aiza Kashif, 42, who holds a doctoral degree in pharmacy, lives in the town of Zhangjiang in Pudong. She has become active in community volunteer efforts.

Kashif was Shanghai’s first foreign “ambassador” in the city’s anti-drug campaign. She has done volunteer work in Metro stations, airports and at the first China International Import Expo. She now serves as a “river chief,” who patrols a stretch of the Chuangxin River twice a week to check for litter and water pollution.

When the coronavirus pandemic broke out earlier this year, Kashif and her family were on holiday in Pakistan. They decided to return to Shanghai, unlike many compatriots who fled the city to return home.

“People in Pakistan were very scared and told us not to return to China,” she said. “But my husband and I talked it over. Shanghai is our second home, and we knew the government was taking strict precautions.”

Once back in Shanghai, she did community volunteer work to promote the campaign to control the virus. She sent out messages to expats on social media, telling them: “Together, we can get rid of COVID-19, and offered tips on how to stay safe and healthy.

Her family first arrived in Shanghai in 2012.

“We looked at many houses in Puxi as well as Pudong,” she said. “But I preferred Pudong because of the international school there for my children. I don’t like lots of noise and traffic. Pudong is less crowded and noisy, and it’s very ‘green.’”

She points to the many trees, plants, stunning architecture and statues in Zhangjiang as proof of a livable environment.

“When I came to Shanghai, Pudong was already very beautiful,” she said. “But now I think it’s even more beautiful. The big Shanghai Tower wasn’t built at that time, but now I can see it from the fifth floor of my apartment building.”

Air quality has also improved, she said.

“A few years ago, the air quality was poor during winters, and we had to wear masks when going outside,” she said. “But government efforts have cleaned up the air. Now I can see the blue sky.”

In 2017, she was invited to become a river inspector, a task she performs with relish.

“Water pollution threatens public health and is detrimental to plants and fish,” she said.

“The river isn’t always clean,” she said. “Garbage and other detritus are sometimes deposited on the banks or in the water. I take a photo and upload each offending scene on the app provided to me, and the government takes it from there. With our combined efforts, the river water quality is much improved.”


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