A Rocha Kenya continues to hold a week long, yearly camp for the ASSETS beneficiaries and this year was no exception.
A bright Tuesday morning, April the 17th, a team of five headed by Festus Masha, our community conservation coordinator, left Mwamba Conservation Centre for a two hour drive to Kaembeni, behind Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, for the ASSETS camp 2018. ASSETS is the Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Eco-Tourism Scheme that cares for both children and environment.
Bogamachuko Primary School was the first school Festus’ team arrived at and spent the first two nights; what with camping, tree planting and interacting with students, it was fun and a memorable experience for them, followed by other schools at Malanga, Nyari, Mijomboni and Mida.
All in all 90 students were brought together for days of fellowship and fun, focusing especially on caring for the environment and on the progress of their studies.
Students, graduates and parents
Decision makers play a key role in conservation. Thus the students were encouraged not only to care for their environment now but to aspire to be part of those who ‘call the shots’. This means they have to study, work hard and be smart in their studies as they are the next generation of leaders.
Creating awareness being a key part of the camp, it also brought parents on board. These parents and students live around the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek and most have no real value of the rich biodiversity surrounding them, hence they do very little to protect or preserve it. At the camp they got to know more about the very valuable natural resources in their area, and also students received guidance for their studies and careers. What they value, they will preserve.
Having ASSETS graduates as part of the ARK team with them at the camp was an encouragement to many students, since they felt that they too can make a difference.
Hope inspiring stories
16 year old Abdul Adnan, is a form two student at Mida Secondary School. He is the 9th born in a family of 11 children. Since being accepted into the scheme he hasn’t stopped talking to people, both his peers and those older, about the importance of Mida Creek and why they should conserve it. He hopes to be a pilot one day and also help to educate many children. He is grateful that ASSETS came in and helped lightened the ‘burden’ since his parents were struggling a lot to raise his fees.
Mr. Amina Juma lives around the creek. In the early years, like most residents, he went out into the forest, trapped birds and animals to at least provide a meal for his family or sell the meat and have some money to take his children to school. Having learned the importance of the forest and creek, he turned to poultry farming. He has been in the business for three years, and as we talked to him he had 150 chickens and each can be sold for Ksh 500 (US$5). He sells his chickens to local hotels and uses the money to cater for family needs. He says “It’s less time consuming since I don’t have to go out hunting for the meat; plus its more assuring because going out into the forest one isn’t sure you will come back with anything”. Mr Amina has been on the forefront of passing on the message to others, encouraging them to use sustainable ways of making an income.
It was a very interactive week as the parents and students asked questions and began to understand their role in conservation. To crown it all, there was a tree planting session done by both the parents and the students.