Orphans from Egypt have been empowered to take the first steps towards protecting their natural environment as a result of HCI’s 2011 Earth Day activities. These children celebrated international Earth Day with HCI’s team and were treated to a fun-filled day of activities promoting environmental awareness.
These children who are orphans from underprivileged backgrounds live a very basic life, they have the bare minimum and don’t normally get the opportunity to enjoy recreational and educational activities that enrich and address their psychosocial wellbeing. HCI’s Earth Day celebrations were therefore extremely beneficial to these children not only because of the new level of environmental awareness it bestowed but also because we did our best to address if only for one day the psychosocial wellbeing of these deprived children as we feel very strongly that if this facet is neglected it can lead to reduced social connectedness, a weakened coping mechanism and a loss of resilience.
Earth Day is an event that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. Originally devised in 1970 when environmentalism seemed to many to be nothing but a fringe issue, environmentalism is now a very mainstream concern and promoting it a very worthwile cause. Earth Day which happens every 22nd April is currently celebrated in more than 175 countries every year. From it’s conception, the focus had been put on children and schools. This makes complete sense as Children have the most important role in keeping our planet healthy; they will still be the caretakers long after their parents and grandparents have passed away.
In Egypt, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and our local partner Gozour NGO, 70 school children from the underprivileged Arab al Tarabeen area of Greater Cairo were transported to a local youth center where they were offered different environmental activities designed to be both fun and educational.
The children got a wonderful opportunity to interact firsthand with nature as they planted some 20 trees. The group was able to attend an environmental arts and crafts workshop where they fashioned some beautiful recycled art out of unwanted items, they were also introduced to recycling activities that can be easily carried out at home.
“Edutainment activities” such as storytelling and an environmental contest were offered. The children were excited to discover the important role trees play in our environment and listened attentively to the environmental information given. At the end of the day the children gathered to reflect on what they had learned and each one agreed to commit to “acts of Green” from recycling to using bicycles instead of cars.
During this celebration of Earth Day the children really came alive, they both enjoyed themselves thoroughly and were provided with the knowledge and tools to make the Earth a better place to live. Rania Abd Allah, one of the young students told us he would “never forget this special day” while Asmaa Atya stated that she had “enjoyed discovering new activities and getting new information about the Earth.”
This event was also significant as it was a one of the first meaningful attempts to address environmental issues within the Arab Al Tarabeen communities but we understand that the commitment to the environmental cause has to be kept up. As such, the science teachers at the local schools have undertaken to carry on discussing specific environmental issues regularly with the students as well as promised to carry out summer activities and organize a celebration of World Environment day coming up on June 5th thereby “nurturing the environmental seeds, planted for these young people”.