This past month, A Rocha Kenya Environmental Education (EE) team held it’s bi-annual ‘ASSETS Awareness Week’, the second one this year since April. We went around the community surrounding Arabuko-Sokoke Forest as well as Mida creek to visit ASSETS beneficiaries and members of the local community who have a passion for conservation or are just curious to see what we talk about in our regular visits.
One of these locations was Mijomboni Primary School, where we arrived earlier than the attendees. This gave us time to inspect the trees that we had planted during the previous visit in April. Despite a few seedlings that had been overgrown by weeds, the surviving trees gave us hope that our efforts were not in vain. Some of the seedlings were also suffering from pest attacks and fungi. We took note of this so that we could better tackle such attacks in the future.
Muvera wa ASSETS, a group formed by those who are grateful for the program, had been germinating seedlings for reforestation. These seeds, which are provided by A Rocha Kenya, consist of indigenous trees found in the surrounding forests. After Muvera wa ASSETS germinate them, A Rocha Kenya collects the seedlings and distributes them to be planted within and around Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. On this day they had over 300 seedlings ready for replanting. When a good number of those we were waiting for arrived, we began a tree planting session in a selected patch of land right behind the classrooms. The young boys had been instructed earlier on to carry pangas and hoes for this activity, and they had come armed and ready to work. Each person was required to plant at least two seedlings. We managed to plant over 60 trees before adjourning to one classroom for the environmental education session.
It is always a good feeling to see the seeds you plant flourish, and this was the feeling the EE team had as they discussed with the members of the community about forest conservation. Issues were raised at the meeting that affected the locals about how they could curb illegal logging and poaching, and everyone got a satisfactory answer. It was also good to see that most of the students sponsored by the ASSETS programme are doing well in school and are also spreading the words to their schoolmates about conservation and the importance of our natural forests.
After the discussion session, the group was treated to a fun game we call “Fugu Doom”, developed by one of our previous volunteers, that follows a Golden-Rumped Elephant Shrew as it goes about its daily activities and challenges. It’s hard to make it to the end of the game, which teaches people about the many challenges this threatened species faces, and how we as their neighbours can help them.
This November we were able to hold seminars in seven schools around the area. Armed with snacks and teaching materials, we were able to get to every station despite the harsh weather and bad terrain, to give our message of conservation to everyone who wanted to hear. Each year, we aim to reach more people with environmental education than the last. Here at A Rocha Kenya, we’re very grateful for all the support we have received for our ASSETS programme in 2019. May God guide us all in 2020 as we seek to care for creation.