Imagine for a moment what might happen if worldly wise scholars came up with the mother of all ideas to save the planet from environmental chaos. I suspect there would be a big party, rapidly followed by lots of head scratching about how to tweak it to suit everyone and how to roll it out across the globe.
Many remote communities are too busy living at the sharp end of climate chaos and if we take deforestation in Bore, Kenya as a simple example, the challenge is very clear. The majority of the villagers have no access to the Internet, they have no easily accessible libraries, they certainly weren’t aware of the global impacts of deforestation: I’m not sure what they’d make of being told to change their entire lifestyle because someone in charge in another country said they had to.
Trusted community educators hold the key to solving countless problems.
With fair remuneration, effective training, access to good resources and guided support they can:
- Raise public awareness of the global impact of local actions, most efficiently
- Through community discussion, uncover vital indigenous knowledge that could alleviate the problem
- Confidently deploy this local knowledge into an ultimate plan of action
- Share their knowledge and successes with neighbouring communities and offer them support
They would raise awareness within their community of:
- The vital importance of encouraging local biodiversity to flourish
- Why conservation of existing, established trees is critical for the health of the world
- The benefits of local schools setting up Wildlife Clubs to protect the local environment
- Good forestry management by protecting and replanting trees
- The benefits of the sustainable development of a nursery and Word Forest, which could lift their community out of poverty
- The need for local farmers to adopt supportive, sustainable agriculturual practices
- The benefits of well constructed educational spaces that offer protection from the elements
Measuring the Impact
The social, environmental and educational benefits that can arise by having good community educators in situ, are endless.
Here’s a summary of recent feedback received from teachers, students and the nearby community of our most recent project in the Coast Province of Boré.
- biodiversity in the Word Forest is flourishing, attracting wild cats, dik-dik (small antelope), guinea fowl, weaver birds who are also nesting, and other creatures
- better public awareness in the community of how the Word Forest protects the soil from erosion and the importance of carbon exchange
- the children and community now understand the environmental importance of forestry management and they want to plant more trees
- through planting the Word Forest, the community understand the link between planting trees and how it can positively affect the environment
- the classrooms and the trees now provide sheltered spaces for us and the community to read and study
- far easier to form group discussions in lessons as the teachers can be heard better
- because they now understand what the Word Forest does, the children realise the importance of carbon eradication and have requested more educational materials on this and other environmental topics.
- greatly improved physical conditions felt by the students and teachers since working inside a classroom (cooler, protected from the elements, large blackboard, easier to teach)
- pupils have far higher levels of concentration
- examination grades have improved
- less throat problems for the teachers because they don’t have to shout to deliver lessons
- the existing register of children at Kundeni Primary School are attending classes more regularly
- additional children have joined the register since the new classroom was completed
- lessons on sustainability and forestry management have resulted in a Wildlife Club being started to plant and care for the Word Forest
- children have been inspired by the improvements to their village and some want to be carpenters, work in construction, to be stone masons (from helping cut the stone for the classroom) others want vocations as environmental caretakers and in forestry management.
- they know that increased reforestation will help bring back the normal rain seasons (they have suffered two years of terrible drought)
- they’re all benefiting from the attractive visual improvements in their community from the surrounding Word Forest and the flourishing biodiversity
- local residents have planted trees around their homes of their own volition, because they now understand the benefits of doing so
- the community know that the Word Forest will provide them with an income from the commodities produced by the trees: medicine from the neem, water purifiers from the moringa seeds, food from the cashews, also charcoal and building poles from germina, casuarina and more.
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