CORK: An Indian-origin girl from Ireland in the list of 60 young climate leaders around the world; Theresa Rose Sebastian from Cork.
This Keralite also grabbed the place in the global election of young stars in the climate sector called ‘United We Are Unstoppable: 60 Inspiring Young People Saving Our World.’ A book on her life struggles was also released last month, edited by renowned journalist Akshat Rathi.
Theresa Rose Sebastian was one of the nominees for the network, which was launched in conjunction with this year’s WOW – Woman of the World Festival, with 40 young activists from around the world. It is a movement that includes some of the most talented girls and celebrities from around the world. Theresa Rose believes that this network will be an active intervention of the global women’s wing in the field of climate.
Theresa has made it clear that she does not want to just lead the fight against climate change, but instead wants the new generation to take the lead in implementing it.
The 16-year-old Malayali girl was present at the rally, chanting slogans and leading from the front, organised by students across the city of Cork on September 20.
Theresa Rose says that the 2018 floods in Kerala were an impetus for her to raise her voice to protect the environment and the climate. In Kerala, heavy rains and floods destroyed 20,000 houses and nearly 480 people lost their lives. The girl says this incident has brought to mind the need for environmental protection.
Theresa Rose, a student at Mount Mercy College in Cork, arrived in Pala, Kottayam district of Kerala, to attend a cousin’s wedding in 2018.
Listen to Theresa Rose:
“Heavy rain was expected in the state, but the rain that arrived was nothing like I had seen. The first flood came when I had stepped out to visit my uncle. When I returned four hours later, the water had risen up so high, our car couldn’t enter the compound.”
The water had cleared on the day the flight to Ireland was booked. But nobody knows what happened in Kerala when we got back home in Cork – Theresa said. “The torrential rain had killed 480 people, thousands of houses were destroyed, leaving families homeless. But no one knew about it. It angered me.”
Towards the end of the year, a friend who had read Theresa Sebastian’s regular feed on the Kerala floods invited her to join the climate movement. “It was an adventure that struck home. My first-ever strike happened on March 15, 2019. I have organised every strike in Cork after that.”
Theresa sees a lot of similarities between climate issues in Kerala and Cork. “Since they are on the coast, floods, storms and heatwaves are common problems. But things are getting worse a lot quicker in Kerala.”
One of the strongest demands of Theresa Rose Sebastian during the strike is to reduce the voting age. “When you are voting, your political education, not age, should come into consideration.”
There is no reason why young people cannot vote. We want to be able to choose a government that works to save the earth. I often get asked—why do you do this? I tell them, I am not doing this because I want to, I am doing it because I have to.
“It is their (indigenous people’s) land we are using, and we need to learn to respect their viewpoint before we take it from them for sustainable development projects,” Theresa said.
She was one of 157 young people elected to the RTE Youth Parliament last year. The Pala girl had the opportunity to sit in the Dail (Irish Parliament) to discuss the country’s climate issues and submit 10 key proposals to the country. Theresa Rose later became one of the few invited to the audience of Ryan Tubridys Late Late Show.
This fifth year student is active in environmental related activities not only in Ireland but also in Kerala. Probably no other Malayali in Ireland has worked so hard in the international arena during this young age.
Theresa Rose, who works with the Bring Back Green Initiative group, had organised three seminars this year as part of her climate education project in Kerala. International speakers such as Kumi Naidoo and Xiye Bastida and Indian speakers from all over India including Vandana Shiva led the classes at the seminar.
Theresa and her team are now working on the development of a curriculum that she and her organisation hope to teach at Kerala schools and universities. Their project is guided by Kumi Naidoo and his team.
Theresa Rose is also the co – founder of the Re-Earth Initiative (https://reearthin.org/), a global environmental organisation.
Theresa Rose, an international movement activist in Cork, Fridays For Future, represented Ireland at a conference in Lausanne, Switzerland.
This sixteen-year-old girl’s wish is to make the voice of ‘Bhoomi Malayalam’ heard all over the world.
Theresa Rose, the daughter of Adattu Sunny Joseph, a retired Air Force officer, and Jasmine Benjamin, a nurse at Cork University Hospital and a native of Muttuchira, have a lot of dreams.
Theresa’s sister Sneha Sunny is also notable among the Malayalies in Ireland. After completing her advanced degree in Chinese Language with Commerce International, she is currently working as a teacher in Shanghai, China. Her brother Joseph is a sixth grader.
Her Future plans
Theresa Rose is currently preparing for a campaign to persuade the authorities to set up an international university elective on climate justice as the main subject of study.
She reiterates that the opportunity for sustainable development is created when people experience social equality, economic sustainability, and participation through local committees that have a legitimate role in decision-making around the environment.
Theresa passed the junior cert with an A level in all subjects. Degree should be made with law and politics as the main subjects and then the struggle for sustainable development with nature and man will continue; until we see success… Theresa also wants to work for women empowerment in the years to come.
Theresa is a powerful inspiration to the growing generation. Her enthusiasm is beyond the maturity of just a sixteen-year-old. Big Salute Theresa Rose… We look forward to seeing your achievements and joining in your fight for a better tomorrow.