When awareness changes, behavior also changes !
This school is located in Yezagyo Township of the central arid region. As the area is close to the Chindwin River, plants can grow easily compared to other areas. The villagers are engaged in farming and are growing mostly beans. They started CFP activities in 2007. In 2016, they planted Neem which can also serves as medicine, Siris which grows fast and Gold Mohur which provides good shades with widely spreading branches.
Before the start of the CFP activities, environmental awareness of the students and teachers were very low. As a result of the school principal communicating about the significance of tree planting and the importance of protecting environment, the children have become very active in carrying out tree planting and environmental protection activities. Daw Khin Myin, School Principal, commented: “Before CFP was started, nothing was in place in the school – no fences, no trees, no walls, but now we have big trees and children enjoy playing and studying under the shades of trees. Children give water to their small trees without specifically instructed by teachers.”
Just joined CFP !
This school is small with only 36 pupils. Previously it was located in a village close to the major river. But due to floods and landslides, the villagers had to evacuate from their former residences and moved to the present location. The school also moved from the river side, and was rebuilt in 2016 with the help of OISCA members and other Japanese donors.
Initially, the villagers did not realize the significance of CFP, but through tree planting activities carried out together with Japanese people and environmental seminars, their interest in trees and nature has been promoted a little by little. Village Leader Daw Nu Yi expressed her earnest desire: “Through CFP, not only children but also adults can learn many things. Earlier, Za Ya Ma was a community located on the river coast. Because of landslides, we moved to the present place. But it is an arid area, and we don’t have good soil. I hope that CFP will properly educate the children, and they will make a difference in their home community in the future.” Although there are problems of arid climate and poor soil quality, they intend to maintain the planted seedlings with care and continue planting trees aiming for green environment.
Visit to Japan by Myanmar and Mongolian children as “Children’s Goodwill Ambassadors” under the Children’s Forest Program
From September 14 to 24, OISCA invited to Japan a total of 7 school children and coordinators from Myanmar and Mongolia under the Children’s Forest Program (CFP) and carried out various exchange activities in Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka and Nara.
On September 20, they visited Okazaki Plant of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in Aichi Prefecture, and in front of the company officials and workers, delivered presentations on the respective forestation activities carried out while facing the serious water shortage in Myanmar and the severe natural disasters and climate change in Myanmar.
In Tokyo, the group participated in a work shop at Nerima Art Museum and underwent studies at NPO Medakanogakkou. While in the Kansai Region, they observed the Kasugayama Virgin Forest located in Nara Prefecture and had an exchange session at Yoshikawa Elementary School in Toyono, Osaka Prefecture.
OISCA intends to promote infrastructural development so that children would be able to think and act together across national borders toward solving global issues in the future.
KYAWE MONE (The Mirror), a national paper in Myanmar carried the following article on 9 March
The following is a translation from Myanmar language (abridged).
Today we are faced with many environmental problems including climate change, extinction of species etc. Biological diversity is being lost, and eco-systems are being destroyed. The world community needs to tackle the crisis. Otherwise, it would worsen day by day.
Tree planting is the most urgently needed task for human beings. The world is losing forests at an alarming speed. So, the Children’s Forest Program (CFP) is now being introduced.
CFP was started in 1991. OISCA, an NGO established in Japan in 1961, initiated this effective environmental education program. CFP is now spreading to 32 countries (*the article was written on the data collected in 2013). Myanmar is one of the countries, and CFP was introduced in Yesagyo Township, Magway in 2001. At present 60 schools in Yesagyo are taking part in this Program.
DOA OISCA Agricultural Training Center was set up in Yesagyo in 1997 and it is a base to promote the OISCA activities including CFP. In CFP children are the main actors. It is an educational program to foster their attitude and awareness. They should concern about Furusato (a Japanese word
meaning “home”) – their own hometowns or home villages where they were born and brought up. They need to protect and rehabilitate their forests and all living beings in their homes. Through CFP children learn about the environment, and the significance of forestation. All village people – teachers, parents and leaders of communities – come together and join in the CFP in their villages, teaching the children with a hope that when their children grow up they will have a natural desire to protect the environment and enrich nature.
DOA OISCA Training Center organized a “Love Furusato Work Camp” in the end of December 2015. Actually this Work Camp is organized every year each time with the participation of 40 schoolchildren from 20 schools from all parts of Yesagyo Township. While playing and having fun, children learn about the environment and the concept of Furusato. They also experience taking care of piglets, quails and chicks.
Furusato is a Japanese word meaning “home.” It, however, connotes broader meanings. It may be equivalent to Myanmar word “Mweyatmyae”. “My Furusato is Pakhangyi, and Pakhangyi belongs to Yesagyo, so Yesagyo is my Furusato. Yesagyo is in Magway, so Magway is also my Furusato. Magway is in Myanmar, so Myanmar is my Furusato. Myanmar is in Asia, so Asia is also my Furusato. Asia is on Mother Earth, so Mother Earth is also my Mweyatmyae.”
Countries such as Japan, Myanmar and China were created by human beings. National boundaries were made by humans. Water, air, soil – all belongs to Furusato. Sakura – cherry blossoms are beautiful in Japan, and it is making Mother Earth beautiful. Himalaya and its clean water is a treasure given by Mother Nature. Panda in China and all living beings on Earth are treasures of Furusato. The great tropical rain forests in Amazon emit oxygen that reaches all human beings, and Amazon is a treasure of Furusato.
Today, the environment of Furusato is being destroyed. We are losing forests, and in the same way numerous life forms. The climate change causes the ice around the North Pole to melt. Human beings are responsible for all these problems. CFP is thus trying to teach children, who should shoulder the future of human society, the importance of protecting Furusato and restoring nature in Furusato. CFP is a useful program. So, we hope that all the teachers in Myanmar will adopt CFP as environmental education program at their schools.
With the financial support from the Global Industrial & Social Progress Research Institute (GISPRI), OISCA carried out the CFP Children’s Goodwill Ambassadors program two times in September and October 2014. From October 1 to 10, Indonesian and Myanmar children came over to Japan for presentation meetings and exchange programs in Tokyo, Kagawa and Ehime. On October 4, they participated in the “Global Festa 2014” held at Hibiya Park in Tokyo, and socializing with Japanese children coming from different parts of the country, taught each other cultures of their respective countries and communities, and together made a “Promise for the Earth 10 years later”
Mr. Htet Phyo Lwin from Myanmar told that in his village, it rains in only about 40 days a year and so, only those crops such as peas resistant to dry can grow; in the dry season, there is no water even in rivers, and they get a small amount of water digging the sand, but it is very hard to carry water. He added that although it is tough to raise trees under this environment, the shade provided by the grown forest is cool and pleasant.
At an event commemorating Japan’s International Cooperation Day held on October 6, 2014, Indonesian and Myanmar children who were visiting Japan as Children’s Forest Program (CFP) Goodwill Ambassadors presented a theme song for CFP entitled “Mori no Ibuki” together with Ms. Kazuyo Kuriya, a flutist and the theme song lyric writer and composer.
Ms. Putri Oktaviani Rachman and Ms. Maharani Dean Pramudita from Indonesia received intensive Japanese language lessons before coming over to Japan. They made all presentations in Japanese and surprised the Japanese participants. The Japanese supporters who participated in the presentation meeting in Tokyo commented: “looking at the children speaking with lively facial expressions, we could feel that the CFP activities are really enjoyable and that forests are developed with the hands of these children”.
On the other hand, children from Sri Lanka and Thailand visited Japan from September 4 to 15 and conducted programs in Aichi, Gifu, Chiba and Tokyo. In the exchange meeting held at Aichi Prefectural Toyota Higashi Senior High School which is expected to take part as the representative of the Chubu region in the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development being held in Japan this November, the Sri Lankan and Thai children reported that the forests in their communities have been lost due to the rapid developments and wildfire causing serious problems such as landslides and water shortage and that they are carrying out tree-planting activities so as to lessen these problems. The students of Toyota Higashi Senior High School made a presentation about their studies and research on living creatures in Yahagi River and forests and also activities to protect the environment.
This year falls on the 60th anniversary of Japan’s international cooperation and also the last year of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) which was proposed by Japan and has been promoted by the international community.
In the future, we intend to improve through this sort of projects mutual understanding of respective environments and cultures beyond the country and also foster children who can act together.