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Posted On: 28 August 2019 02:00 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:04 pm

Qommunity Voices - Qatar's beaches are getting a makeover with Jose Saucedo

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Jose Saucedo is one of the reasons our beaches here in Qatar are getting cleaned up on an almost weekly basis. He has been in Qatar for just over two years with his wife who is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and his three beautiful children, and has been part of 117 cleanups with over 5,300 volunteers, and helped remove more than 65,000 kilograms of trash from Qatar's beautiful beaches. He runs a successful trading and consulting business in the US, and is an operations manager (industrial engineer) turned environmentalist. He is also DEAP (Doha Environmental Actions Project) Qatar’s Director (full-time volunteer), and spends his time and energy fighting plastic pollution and littering in Qatar.

Qommunity Voices - Jose Saucedo

1. How has your journey in Qatar been so far?

Jose: It’s been a great experience. I used to think the US was a diverse country, until I came to Qatar.

2. Tell us about your journey with DEAP Qatar?

Jose: It has been incredible. DEAP Qatar started in May 2017. It's a volunteering organisation leading the fight against plastic pollution and the beach cleanup movement. The focus is on beach/sand dune cleanups and school presentations to educate the youth in Qatar on matters related to the environment.

We started doing beach cleanups on Fridays. At first, it was only 1 person, then 2, 3, and the group started to grow. We were doing well, but I wanted to take DEAP to the next level. I aspire DEAP Qatar to be a positive Influence and leading contributor to our community in Qatar. That’s when I decided to start working with schools and significantly increase the number of school and corporate cleanups. So, we went from doing a cleanup every Friday to doing 2 - 4 cleanups and a couple of school presentations every week!

If you ask me, I believe that convincing 5,300 people to go pick up someone else’s trash, for most of us in a country that’s not our own, is quite an accomplishment. It speaks highly of how serious plastic pollution is in Qatar and the world, and how much people care.

Qommunity Voices - Jose Saucedo

3. What prompted this initiative?

Jose: It all started with a walk on the beach. My friend Jeanne Brown was at the beach and she didn’t like all the trash she saw laying around. She decided to do something about it and created DEAP Qatar. Unfortunately Jeanne left Qatar, that’s when I took over the group a year and a half ago and started working in our mission, vision, and how to get there.

4. When did you know you wanted to take up this line of work?

Jose: I’ve always been environmentally conscious. In my professional life I’ve done a lot of sustainability cost saving projects, and I have always been a volunteer in the community where I live. When I arrived to Qatar I was missing that, so I participated on one of DEAP Qatar’s cleanups and I was hooked. I told myself “this is what I’m going to do in Qatar” as a volunteer, not knowing that a couple months later I’d be leading the organisation.

Qommunity Voices - Jose Saucedo

5. What most often inspires this journey?

Jose: Children and their future, and my amazing team of volunteers. Every time I work with a school, especially with young children, it is an amazing experience and motivator. I have three children myself. They deserve a better future. And, I really want people to be able to enjoy the beauty that Qatar has to offer, and be proud of it for generations to come.

6. Why do you love what you do?

Jose: It has a lot of purpose, finding something to do in life that has a purpose is hard, and I love nature and the outdoors. It is also a BIG problem, a challenge that I decided to take on. If we don’t fix this problem who will do it? If we don’t start now, then when? The time for action is now!

7. How has the experience been in Qatar?

Jose: Incredible. I’m very proud of the work we do. The response from our volunteers and the community in general has been great. It’s hard to disagree that we are doing the right thing for Qatar, for the environment, and for our community. I’ve had the opportunity to discover Qatar with a purpose. Thanks to the work we do and all the places we’ve been to, I can say that I and some of the volunteers in my team know Qatar better than most people.

Qommunity Voices - Jose Saucedo

9. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Jose: Nature, the ocean, people, children and my team of volunteers.

8. Do you have a lot of volunteers/members?

Jose: Although we have close to 5,000 followers on social media, we need more volunteers to attend the cleanups. This enables us to have a bigger impact. Sometime we’re 20 volunteers, other times we 100 or 300. There’s always a group of 10 - 15 volunteers that are regulars. I couldn’t do the work we do without their support.

Everything we do is on a volunteer basis. We don’t have any money, we carpool to the cleanup locations, people bring food to share. We are truly building a sense of community, of belonging, and doing something great for the environment and Qatar. I don’t know of many full time volunteers out there devoting their life to the protection, restoration and promotion of Qatari natural and heritage sites like I am. I’m proud of that and I’m determined to continue my work.

Qommunity Voices - Jose Saucedo

9. What is your biggest achievement so far in terms of beach cleanups and environmentally friendly initiatives?

Jose: We are becoming a positive influence in the Qatar community. There’s a need in Qatar for what we do. Being invited to schools all the time, and being sought after people and companies that want to support out cause is amazing.

10. What do you think of the cleanliness and littering/anti-littering scene in Qatar?

Jose: A lot of work needs to be done. Our beaches and dunes are as beautiful as those of the Caribbean. We have incredibly beautiful heritage sites; it’s a shame that we litter them badly. We need to continue educating people and promoting the beauty of these places. Both the government and civil society need to do their part to #keepqatarclean.

11. What’s next for you?

Jose: We are ambitious, we want to take the whole country on cleanups. For the past few months I’ve been promoting a proposal I have for the creation of a national beach cleanup day.

12. Do you have any message for the people of Qatar?

Jose: Join us! We need passionate people that love nature and Qatar as much as we do to help us support our efforts. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled the world, Qatar has many incredibly beautiful places that people would love to discover, but they are badly littered.

It’s not what we say that changes the world. It’s what we do. If what we do resonates with you, help us #keepqatarclean and allow it to have clean beaches, dunes, and heritage sites that will be a source of pride and joy for generations to come.

If you're interested in getting involved with DEAP Qatar, look them up on their social media pages:

Instagram: @deap_qatar