Education is the most critically important tool in enabling humankind to survive in all sorts of environments and circumstances. The United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) backs this idea by asking all UN member states to stand firm in supporting children to go to school so that they can become active participants of transformation in their societies. The organization adds that by providing quality, relevant and inclusive education to all human races and ethnicity, the world would arrive at its peak much earlier than expected and provide a binding instrument for a fair living planet.
Also, it has been documented that children learn better when they are surrounded by nature, so enriching their environment with trees and flowers will enable them to become better students.
We at Amara together with Purdue University have been involving kids in tree planting sessions. The project greatly raises awareness on the importance of trees and shrubs. We know that the best way to inspire a love for nature is to start teaching it at a young age. By having students learn every aspect of tree planting and care, from choosing a species to harvesting viable seeds to putting them in the ground and everything in between, it becomes second nature to them.
The kids of Mariwenyi Primary School learned how to plant and care for trees. And now they understand why the practices we taught them are important to our well-being. By having high school students teach what they learned to the preschoolers, they not only become advocates, but, they get to experience the wonder and delight of a child’s view, which strengthens their own experience. Most did not understand why caring for trees before, during, and after they are planted leads to healthy trees. It prompted opportunities for real learning, like explaining that we can’t just throw a tree or shrub in the ground and walk away. We had to emphasize that planting a tree in a dry and settled environment is not the same as a tree growing in a forest and that a tremendous amount of care is needed.
Planting trees and gardens at schools helps beautify the community and schools. The newly grown trees will clean the air. They will clean the water runoff from the buildings with their roots. They not only enrich the students and residents’ lives, they enrich the earth that they now inhabit. As the gardens start to flower, they will attract bees, birds, and butterflies — all of which we need to pollinate food gardens in the community.
The scenery will bring an aura of peace to the area. Personally, it eases my soul to watch the birds, insects, and wildlife flit among the trees and flowers. If I feel stress from the outside world, I go into nature to quiet my mind and bring me to a place of serenity. So, I imagine that for the high school students who are under great pressure, bringing nature to them is a relief. To now be surrounded by greenery, singing birds, and blooming flowers than before it was a barren concrete landscape.
One of the most rewarding parts of the project was that even though it was about education, no one had to teach the preschool children to be happy about trees. They understand that to the core of their being. Watching them dance, hug, and sing to the trees was delightful beyond measure. To bear witness that kind of joy and appreciation was the best part of the whole experience.
Family is strength for each of us. We all need each other whether close relative or close friend. One family cannot live alone without the other families. We all want to live in a place where there is security, unity, freedom of movement and peace. If insecurity arises in an area we will all want to move to a different place. Just as producers need wholesalers, wholesalers need retailers, retailers need consumers, and vice versa, the same synergy applies to animals.
Animals need their families for them to feel strong and happy. Wild animals want to live in a peaceful environment. When they feel insecure they will move to other areas where they feel safer. Animals have feelings just as we do. They need each other as we do. Giraffe need dikdiks, dikdiks need other antelope, antelopes need elephants etc. Multiple species association makes prey species help each other to protect themselves from predators.
Wild animals know their relatives and they know and respect other families. Small animals need big animals to help them open the thick bush. If one member of a family is killed then the whole family will be shaken and unstable. If a mother is killed, how will the calf survive? Some animals live in pairs e.g. dikdiks – if one is killed the other will die because of stress.
Amara is working hard to save the lives of these creatures through providing conservation education to communities living with wildlife close to protected areas. I’m sure no one wants to be in this world alone, we all need each other, this is the same for wild animals. Can you imagine living in a world where its just you and your close relatives? How would it be? We need other families to make our lives better. Africans need Americans, Americans need Asians and so on and so forth, planetwide.
This is why we are trying our best to ensure our wildlife are secure and they live in peaceful protected areas. We educate the entire community so they will not allow anyone from far or from within their areas to do any harm to our wildlife. Please work with us to ensure that these ideas spread far and wide!
Many humans prefer to live in a place close to markets for food, easy access to hospitals when we are sick, and close to banks for money, along with other commodities that we need. We tend to forget a very crucial and natural free gift from God that gives us life.
Trees are often recognized as the ‘lungs of the world’ because they make oxygen from carbon dioxide. However, this is an understatement. If we think along the same line, trees are also the kidneys of the world as they regulate the flow and use of water by intercepting rain and releasing it slowly to the ground where it can either run off into rivers, or enter the groundwater. Other plants can then absorb it for use in photosynthesis. This absorbed water is then transpired back to the atmosphere and blown on the wind until it falls as rain somewhere else.
Our bodies need lungs to be healthy and strong. Look at the work of your lungs, our lungs perform a great job, they give life. A breathing person is alive, and the air to breathe comes directly from trees. Whatever we do to a tree, we are doing to our lungs. When we cut down trees it is like slicing your own lung. Trees help reduce air pollution both by directly removing pollutants and by reducing air temperatures.
Amara involves communities and school children to ensure we protect/conserve the trees that are left for us, and restore those that were destroyed. We are doing this through education, tree planting activities, and tree nursery management training; where we train kids how to establish their own tree nurseries. We encourage the kids to be the champions of this project in school and at home, because conservation needs EVERYONE.
No Trees No Oxygen, No Oxygen No Breathing, No Breathing No Life.
Our forests are home to critical wildlife habitat. When our forests are threatened, it also threatens the homes of all the diverse wildlife habitat that live there. Natural disasters, urbanization, and agriculture are just a few of the common causes of deforestation. But as deforestation continues to rise, the animals that call it home start to disappear.
We all know about climate change. We’ve been told about greenhouse gasses, we’ve seen the dramatic images of ice shelves collapsing into the ocean, and yes, maybe the weather in our area has been a bit more severe lately. For the majority of us, this is how we see climate change: news reports, videos from the arctic, and the occasional inconvenience.
What we don’t see is the impoverished farmer struggling to provide for his family. What we don’t see is his fight against drastically fluctuating markets, against degrading seed quality, and against even mother nature herself when the rains come less frequently, at ever-changing times, or sometimes, not at all. For all these reasons, we at Amara have been donating seedlings as well as planting with school kids in various schools in Taita – Taveta County to sensitize people about the benefits of planting trees and engage them in doing so. So, the benefits of planting trees are enormous however we still overlook their importance. It is time we realize how important these are for our environment as well as our social and economic well-being. Each one of us must take it as a responsibility to plant trees whenever and wherever we can to make our planet a better place to live.
It is a long process to re-imagine our values to be more in tune with nature. It may be generations before we start to see a nature based world view woven into all of our human decisions – but what a vision to hold on to! It is the cultivation of this both new and ancient connection to nature, the rewilding of human culture that will ultimately lead to the return of our wild places.
As a Chinese proverb states, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” So, do your bit and make this place more beautiful
The Tsavo West National Park is a section of one of the largest wildlife conservancies on the planet, as well as one of Kenya’s largest wildlife national parks. It is well-known for its resident population of Red Elephants as well as the tale of the Tsavo Man-eaters. Unfortunately, most of the communities bordering these parks have never had a chance to visit them due to the cost. For these reasons Amara organizes game drives with Purdue University students each year into Tsavo West National Park. We also encourage children to form Wildlife Clubs and embrace their wildlife and environment. This year Mrabenyi Secondary School in Taita Taveta County had the opportunity to tour the vast Park and interact with the University students from USA.
Historically, the Tsavo Area is renowned for the Man-eaters of Tsavo, two mane-less lions who developed a taste to prey on humans back in the early 1900’s (various reasons are cited for this, one recently being that they suffered from tooth decay and pain that made hunting difficult for them!). Although they were later shot, they killed many people that were constructing the railway line connecting Mombasa and Nairobi. Additionally, it was the main battlefield between the Germans and the Britons in Africa in the course of World War I. Currently the area is very peaceful and is now famous for its resident Red-colored Elephants, that enjoy dust-bathing in the red colored soil. The serene environment of Tsavo comes mainly with thorny bushland, open grasslands and among the most beautiful scenic areas are; the Yatta plateau, the World’s longest lava flow stretching 290km; Mzima springs; Shetani Lava Flow; Chaimu Hill; and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary.
During each trip, a KWS field officer with a wealth of knowledge also accompanies students and gives them an overview on biodiversity and challenges facing them in protecting the park. The park is huge and its wildlife is dispersed across vast terrain so it would take one several weeks exploring to see all the areas and best appreciate the wildlife, but each of these trips allows the students to see some of the highlights, and for most it is the trip of a lifetime.