Youth action to create a better future for all: Kosovar students fight against air pollution

 While I was spending my vacation in Prishtina this summer, I saw a new eco-friendly project in the city center. Five benches decorated with plants were set up at the Zahir Pajaziti Square. It was a refreshing view to see these plants in a place that has a small number of trees. In fact, many parts of the city are lacking trees and there are few big parks, except for the City Park, and Germia Park - a national park just outside of the city. It is very important to be aware of the fact that trees are a source of air. Their presence is especially significant in areas with high levels of air pollution, such as the town of Obiliq nearby that has two big power plants. What surprised me the most was the simplicity of these constructions, having plants lined up on the shelves that stand vertically between the benches. It gave a domestic feeling, like something you would find in a household’s backyard.

It didn’t take me long before I found out that the project was initiated by several students of the Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Mechatronics of the University of Prishtina. They realized that it would cost less taxpayers money if they would come up with an idea that would cleanse the air and protect the environment. They named their project “TE Pema T” which in Albanian would mean “at the T tree”. It’s a wordplay where T and E stand for Technology and Ecology, while the second T letter signifies the reversed T-letter design of the project.

How does the TE Pema T bench work?

The plants by the benches filter the air by taking pollutants coming from chimneys, power plants, cars and other polluters of the environment. They then release oxygen in the air. The project has an installed system that collects rainwater, filters it and then automatically waters the plants. When there’s no rain, the reservoirs can be filled up manually. It contains an air quality meter as well, which shows the current level of air pollution in the area. The plants stay green throughout the whole year and they replace around 70 ordinary trees. This way, it saves space up to 80 times more than it would by planting real trees in an urban area. Alongside oxygen, they produce a pleasant and fresh scent. They also absorb sound which consequently reduces the amount of noise in their surroundings. In the evening, the construction lights-up and blends in with the city’s night time atmosphere.

TE Pema T is an extraordinary way to raise awareness about the environment, what issues it is facing and how to protect it. At the same time, the project itself is put to work. This technological invention was designed to substitute a part of nature so that the citizens could breathe clean air. Last but not least, it is an invention of a team of young people that were smart enough to realize that their environment is in danger, and brave enough to do something about it. It shows that the youth in Kosova has a great potential and they do represent the future of their country. That is one of the main reasons to support and stimulate such initiatives coming from young people anywhere in the world. I hope we all recognize their power of innovation and invest in their knowledge for the sake of a healthier lifestyle.

Author: Tomislav Perušić

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Tomislav is a graduate of the High School of Economics in 2009 in Subotica, Serbia. Moreover, he continued his studies in Economics at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, from 2009 to 2011, while currently, he is studying Albanian Language, Literature and Culture at the University of Belgrade in Serbia. 

Tomislav’s experience in volunteering, working as a translator, correspondent and being an active member of society is enriching. He has worked as a correspondent for a Croatian newspaper in Subotica, Serbia, called “Hrvatska riječ” (Croatian word) since 2009. An activist of an NGO called Žene u crnom (Women in Black) in Belgrade, Serbia, and translator from Serbian to English and vice-versa since 2015.  

In addition, he has participated in numerous seminars for the Albanian language since 2016, as well as Links2 program organized by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights regarding Kosovo - Serbia dialogue, held in 2016 in Prishtina, Kosovo, and Belgrade, Serbia. Took part in Gender Studies Summer School in 2016 in Prishtina, Kosovo. 

Tomislav has knowledge and communicates in a number of languages such as: Serbian, Croatian, English, Albanian, Hungarian, Italian, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. 

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