Kerala's climate crusader Abhirami who led Earth Strike Week is just 16

Meet 16-year-old Abhirami, the climate crusader, who led Earth Strike Week in Kerala
Abhirami Manohar during Earth Uprising signature collection campaign at Durbar Hall.

Kochi: Abhirami Manohar is all of 16 years. She is a Class 11 student at Kendriya Vidyalaya at Kadavanthra in Kerala's Ernakulam district. What makes her different from her peers is her love for the Earth and environment, and her worry-free attitude for studies.

On Friday, she skipped classes demanding an end to the age of fossil fuel. She was joined by hundreds of students in the city in a novel event held as part of the Earth Strike Week all over the world.

Abhirami and her friends describe themselves as Climate Revolutionary. In India, the event was held simultaneously in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, Kolkata and Allahabad. More cities will join the seven-day protests until it concludes on September 27.

Earth Strike Week
Students who signed joint petition to take steps to resist change.

It was not the first protest organised by Abhirami. The passionate nature lover was behind a crusade against the use of single-use plastic pens and campaign against water wastage in her school.

Abhirami represents the Kochi chapter of Earth Uprising, an international movement led by climate activist Alexandria Villasenor.

“I have been a nature-lover right from my childhood. But I had no idea how to chip in to protect the nature. I knew that I cannot do it alone,” she said.

This July, she conducted a meeting of like-minded students at her friend's house and formed the Kochi chapter of the global outfit 'Climate Revolutionary,' launched by Greta Thunberg. Greta, a 16-year-old environmental activist from Sweden, had hogged limelight when she skipped school and sat in protest outside the Parliament of her country to attract the attention of law makers to the impact of climate change.

Alexandra Villesanor
Alexandra Villesanor, fouder of the Earth Uprising.

Earth Strike Week begins in style

Scores of environmental organisations and activists participated in the launch of Earth Strike Week at Durbar Hall in Kochi on Friday. It was marked by a signature collection campaign and awareness speeches. The talks, gatherings and rallies will move to other cities across Kerala.

The strike at Thiruvananthapuram will be held at Kanakakkunnu Palace on Sunday. A non-governmental organization - Ozhukanam Puzhakal, or Rivers must flow - will host the Thrissur event on September 27 at Kerala Agricultural University.

SP Ravi, the coordinator of 'Ozhukanam Puzhakal', said repeated floods and landslides in 2018 and 2019 were pointers to a massive climate change that could damage the whole eco-system. “Kerala's highly literate people are not aware of the hazards of climate change. Even after two terrific natural calamities, we are still not talking enough about climate change,” he said.

The Earth Strike Week will organise an awareness march from Nilambur town to Pathar, a rural countryside which was completely washed away in the landslides in August this year. Ravi said around 1500 people, including landslide victims, will join the march. 'Anpodu Nilambur,' a disaster-relief group, will also collaborate with the march.

Mohan Das, a volunteer of the Thrissur chapter of Earth Strike Week, said the frequency and intensity of natural calamities have increased on a very large scale owing to the drastic change in climate. “Life is uncertain here. Landslides destroyed major parts of Wayanad and Nilambur. We need to act to conserve the nature, rebuild the lost and enlighten the young generation about climate change. No theories will help you at the time of a disaster. Only solid actions will help,” he said.

Two other non-government organisations - Kerala Climate Action Alliance and Kerala Shadow Cabinet – have also joined the Earth Strike Week.

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