Kitayun (Katy) Rustom
Katy co-founded the Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) with Rashneh Pardiwala in December 2002. She is also an Ashoka Fellow – a ‘Social Entrepreneur for Change’. When I asked her to describe her life journey, she replied: “I have no record of my earliest tryst with environmental and justice related issues. I would need to think that out but looks like a lot of it is to do with being linked to the land as a farmer’s daughter. I have strong memories of wanting Dahanu to remain the way it did with its farmlands and its life and culture intact. Will give this some more thought ……….”
Even so she missed a lot out. I remember hearing several accounts and prompted her about helping local balloon workers and she answered: “My goodness I still remember fighting the corporators, being chased by the mafia and arrested by the cops for going to the Dahanu Municipal Council. Gosh its so bizarre the law keepers are themselves law breakers. Sometimes it just makes me feel low …” Read more about her work in Dahanu here.
An introduction to the work of CERE, taken from their website:
Their school textbooks have been in demand and their latest venture is a guidebook for city youngsters and parents that will fuel their interest in birds and their habitats. They aim to re-connect children to nature within cities, help young naturalists identify plants & animals in their own neighbourhoods & communities and improve conservation through community and individual efforts.
In 2015, Rashneh and Katie sent news of CERE’s latest publication, Walk on the Wild Side – a handbook on Urban Biodiversity. CERE has designed this book for city youngsters, students, teachers and parents to help take them closer to nature, in order for them to bond with it. Conservation would be a natural outcome of this bonding with wildlife.