By: Adriana Cabán Ureña
“The best of two worlds,” that’s how this young woman describes the chance of being born with the privilege of being surrounded by nature.
Camille, the pseudonym she chose for this story, was born on May 1, 1994 in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. She was raised near the zone of “Valle Coloso,” now considered an agricultural zone in the town of Aguada, where she had the opportunity to grow with a feeling of protection for nature and animals. Walking through the valley, watching the cows giving birth, and helping her grandparents on their lands were and still are some of the many adventures this 19- year- old is used to enjoy since her childhood.
Since a very early age she knew she wanted to help but didn’t know how, without knowing that the answer she needed was right in front of her eyes.
“When I was a little girl, I witnessed how people endangered “Coloso”. They threw garbage, old furniture, refrigerators, and even dead animals! That’s where it all began,” said Camille while sitting in a chair showing a gleaming smile and projecting energy.
At the age of 14, Camille started to feel more commitment for the environment; because she was active in the Girl Scouts movement where girls are encouraged to be good civilians, leaders and women’s of rights. She decided to make a service project based on her passion, promoting environmental conservation. What this young girl didn’t know at that moment was that this first step, would mark the beginning of a journey that is still alive today, having an impact and delivering the message of environmental conservation to all generations. In 2008, at the age of 14, she began her mission.
Because of her versatility, Camille is not only an environment lover but also a passionate musician, which is part of the inspiration for the name of her community project initiative, Verde Armonía (Green Harmony,in English).
The young hero explained how the name, Verde Armonía, combines her passion for nature and music; the word “Green” represents the color of nature while “Harmony” refers to the fraternization between human beings and the environment. Also, in music, harmony complements the melody forming a beautiful sound.
“I know that people who share my same passion, music, are people that have the capacity to experiment different sensible sides. I love music, it is joyful and that’s exactly what I want! I want people to feel alive and happy at the same time they are helping! Music is everywhere, evenin the wind that blows whispers a melody, making it part of nature.” said Camille.
Searching for information to educate herself and making links with resources, even visiting professionals, Camille began to acquire knowledge in the field of environment, which enabled her to take additional steps in her journey.
“At first, I started my project in focused on the implementation of recycling methods in my community I installed a center for the deposit of recycling materials, and educated the community. For my surprise my community showed extremely interested in my work, they wanted to help too! When I saw he impact my labor was causing, I decided to direct my project to new environmental initiatives.”
Without losing time, Camille began taking action by walking the streets of her hometown and inviting people to the first conferences and environmental activities. She proceeded to make arrangements for the implementation of the first area in her barrio for the disposal of recycling materials. Always active and focused on her mission to plant the seed of environmental consciousness, Camille continued her work with talks, marathons for the environment, beach cleanups, workshops of recycling and agriculture, reforestation, and adoption of areas.
Camille has always been a faithful believer that is “never too late to learn,” this is why she started an environmental group that consists of students from nearby schools, senior centers and community volunteers. Since 2008, the group has been changing minds and encouraging more people to participate not only in environmental activities but also to put into practice various methods of the environmental conservation.
The young woman is currently a student at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, where she studies accounting. Her long-term goal is to enroll in Law School. She has been juggling many challenges: living in Mayagüez while pursing her environmental work in her hometown and maintain her grades in college. Her desire to help is evidently stronger than the forces that challenge her.
“Living in Mayagüez has not only allowed me to continue spreading the environmental message but also has help me to continue developing myself in the environmental field. Because I was part of the Campus Verde Association since 2008 as a volunteer, when I came to the University I decided to make myself full member.” Campus Verde educates and encourages community to make responsible use of natural resources, also, coordinates activities to make awareness of the importance of living in harmony with the environment. Camille, is also member of the Green Building association which works hand by hand with the Mayaguez Municipality to develop and create a Green City with the implementation of different green projects.
Camille ended with a great quote she is use to say “We should take care of the Enviroment, it is the only legacy that we actually have”