At Phuket Marine National Parks Research Center located at the northern part of Phuket Island in Thailand our Student Action Program (S.A.P.) students showed us what 4 straight months of hard work and dedication can accomplish. With the help of over 40 younger students from Tahchatchai School, our 50 S.A.P. students from
Technical Thalang College planted 300 mangrove trees along two areas of Thachatchai Mangrove Forest Nature Trail.
The opening ceremony for our S.A.P. students' mangrove planting and educational event was presented by guest speakers Mr. Chokdee Intreegrub, Assist. Director of Sub-District Administration, Mr. Suwut Limphanon and Mr. Somporn Thaweegarn, Assist. Directors of Technical Thalang College.
This full day event designed by our students aimed to restore 2 mangrove areas and teach the younger students from Thachatchai school (age 11-12) all about the importance of mangrove ecosystems. Our students ran the Thachatchai students through a serious of stations covering topics titled, "Mangrove Forests: The Kitchen of the World", "The Amazing Underworld", "Cleaning Water Resources", and "Renewable Energy" to teach them about the important ecosystem functions mangrove forests have.
We are really impressed with our students. To see both our S.A.P projects come together and be a big success shows us how with a little guidance, support, and knowledge a group of 15 year old students' ability to educate others, solve problems, and change the way people do things is boundless!
S.A.P. Update by Kelly Franklin of www.sustainablesmiles.org
SAP (student action program)
Seedlings mini grant supporter
Students worked on 2 different projects
1)Worked with local school and educated children ages 10-12 years old about reduce, reuse, recycle (50 children total)
*beach clean up
2)Mangrove forest awareness and importance fieldtrip with the children.
Mini grant helped to make both events possible:
*cloth bags which children decorated
*mangrove tree starts which children planted
*billboard (children made spreading awareness of importance of proper trash disposal, and rrr principle)
I was fortunate enough to go on the Eco tour Kelly has started with Indigo Pearl Resort. We started the day with a sea kayak adventure through a section of mangroves. I learned several ways Mangroves are important.
1) Preventing erosion,flooding, and minimizing storm wave damage.
2) Soil absorbs harmful chemicals from fertilizers etc. before they reach the ocean.
3) Mangroves are able to use salt water effectively to grow.
4) Medicinal purposes, good for making charcoal, and wood is great for building.
5) Trees mature rapidly and are nearly self sufficient growing their seed pods from branches and shoots will go all the way to the ground to start a new tree naturally.
The following were started by other NGOs and are running successfully on there own.
Hydroponic vegetable farming
Mushroom grow operation using palm waste
Rubber tree farming is a steady industry that continues to grow with increased rubber prices. Thailand is the number 1 producer and exporter.
Trash and the lack of proper disposal is a major problem. It's funny/ironic that all Thai people are almost OCD about sweeping leaves and debri from around their home or business yet they will pitch trash everywhere but a trash bin.
Unfortunately the government doesn't help, making trash bins a rare commodity. This in conjunction with locals not being educated on the harmful effects trash has on land and marine areas makes this a difficult issue to tackle.
I had come across the dugout style trash bin when I was in an Eco friendly community out east. The concept is simple, cheap and very effective in keeping animals out. Literally dig a hole and put a lid over it with a handle. The lid itself can be made of a material that would hold up in the tropics like that composite decking material they actually make here. Getting funding either through resorts, government or grants would be necessary to get this off the ground. Kelly seemed to really like this idea, but if any Seedling supporters have additional thoughts it would be great to have them posted.
Just creating the bins brings us to the next problem. That is awareness of locals and tourists alike on how to properly dispose of things. Kelly through Sustainable Smiles works directly with the children in hopes that they will share information with parents.
This is not enough to change the older generations bad habits. Which leads us to the question Kelly and I brainstormed about. What is the quickest and most effective way to educate and retrain people to want to change? Money of course, possibly getting news recognition in conjunction with prize or reward... Government backing would be nice.
Although my time with Kelly was short due to her continued Ed in Bangkok, I could see how much she had I influenced the local children. It seemed she was not only a teacher but a confidant and friend to many of the kids we saw out and about. Everywhere we went "Kelly" was a name that was shouted out with glee in passing. She has clearly done an amazing job educating about environmental awareness but also immercing herself into the Thai culture. I am thrilled to have had this opportunity to see first hand how we at Seedlings helped to make another successful project happen for Sustainable Smiles!
Sent from my iPod
I have spent the last 10 days at a monastery called Wat Suan Mokkh learning how to meditate in environments most natural setting. The beds were a slab of wood or cement with a straw mat and a small wooden carved pillow. The days started at 4am and finished at 930pm. We were fed breakfast and lunch vegetarian meals except on day 9 we only got breakfast. Situated in the jungle you have an overwhelming sense of appreciating mother earth and of course all the life that comes with that.
I learned a great deal about Buddhism, myself, and the power of breathing over the past 10 days and although this was not an easy camp I would certainly recommend it to all. The challenges both physically and emotionally were beyond words at times. But learning how to calm myself through my breath and realize that this to shall pass was extremely powerful. I realize now how I've let my mind control me in so many ways fueling desire, anger, fear, stress ect. The realization of impermanence became glaringly obvious too and my appreciation for each and every moment grew.
I dont mean to sound transformed after 10 days I'm not that naive. But what I did learn in my short time there I plan to take forth into my normal daily life. Living more in the present, expending energy on loving kindness, meditating using my breath, getting a grip on my "monkey mind"and practicing yoga daily.
I'm now back in Phuket where I will be working with sustainable smiles as well as an orphanage and a local animal shelter. I feel I'm hitting full stride in my travels! Will share more with you all in as few weeks!
Sent from my iPod
Is traveling and doing volunteer work in Thailand January to April 2011
We are proud of Amber and very much look forward to receiving her reports and updates of her adventure postings here in the S.E.E.D. blog; it is especially exciting too because Amber is able to connect with Kelly Franklin of Sustainable Smiles, meet the students and experience the S.A.P. projects in progress!!
Karon beach Wednesday January 26, 2011
So far I have spent time in Bangkok, koh Tao, khao soc, and now Phuket. I've been jumping around at a quick pace but I'm finally starting to feel settled here in Phuket town. It's a short way from the beach, clean comfortable and cheap accommodation. Despite being a developed area it has less of a tourist feel than you would expect. I know I said originally I was planning on staying way off the beaten track but I'm learning that I need certain creature comforts and Phuket town seems like a good balance.
Locals are friendly and seem to appreciate my attempt at conversing in Thai. I have not been sick due to the food, I did have a very high fever but the doctor wrote it off as a cold and gave me meds that helped quickly. I'll have to say it is hard to eat meat after seeing how things are prepared. It's dirty as expected but the smells are what put me over the top. Some sort of cross between urine, deadfish and something rotting as you walk by some food stalls. Between that and the heat I find I don't have much of an appetite and in fact may just eat a little fruit for the day. Those of you that know me well might find that hard to believe, as my appetite is usually ferocious! But I feel fine.
One of my most wonderful experiences so far has been practicing tai chi with the elders in Bangkok (lumpini park). I asked around yesterday when I came to p town to solidify a hostel for today and got a couple leads on parks to check out. Apparently there are a few groups that practice in the evenings. I hope to find them and continue to learn about this truly amazing practice.
I've met some interesting travelers so far mostly from Europe. Gabby tops the charts so far, she's a 64 yo lady from Germany. I met her on the public bus into karon beach. She's been traveling here for 15 years spending 4 weeks at a time. She took me under her wing right away and found me a cheap bungalow Right across from the beach! I treated her to dinner and she introduced me around it seemed she new everyone in this restaurant. She had wonderful travel stories and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
It's hard traveling by yourself, I had a bit of a melt down the other day. Just feeling alone and displaced. It's a fine art trying to live in a new culture as apposed to just being a tourist.
Just a note about the jungle... The bugs/spiders are huge as much as I like to hike the insects were to much for me. This thing the size of my hand landed on my ear- that was it I had to get out of there. The limestone cliffs were amazing though!
I've noticed a few schools in the area. It brought a smile to my face to see the kids playing and I thought hmmm maybe I can teach a bit of English here...
Sa wa dee ka
Suzan and Joseph of Seedlings of Change community share some wonderful photos of gifting and celebration with the children, parents and elders at the school and in the village!!
After nearly 4 months of planning, our first group of Student Action Program (S.A.P.) students from Technical Thalang College implemented their environmental project at Muang Mai School in Phuket. They held a full day environmental workshop for students age 10-12 to educate them on what they can to do to help protect their environment. The 20 S.A.P. students in this group organized 5 different stations along with games, songs, dances, and other activities to engage the younger students in learning about impacts human's have on the environment, global warming, reducing waste, recycling, plastics, buying sustainable products, making lifestyle changes, and much more.