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From October 2020 to January 2021, The Sebangau Rangers were involved in a project named “Uneng Welum”. Uneng Welum is taken from the Dayak Ma’anyan language meaning ‘place of life’. The message of this project is to always bring hope and cheerfulness to everyone who joins the project. There are three main activities that the Sebangau Rangers conducted during the project, which are organic gardening, making organic soap, and learning about forest plants. This project was run by the education team of Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) after recently participating in the Teach4Future program. The Teach4Future program is a part of Youth Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Seeds or ‘YSEALI Seeds’ which focuses on environmental education and capacity building for teachers, practitioners, and activists.
The Sebangau Rangers started organic gardening from scratch. They cleaned the gardening area, cultivated it, planted the vegetables, and took care of it until they harvested. During the process, the Sebangau Rangers were helped by BNF’s Community Nursery staff who are experienced in this activity. They planted vegetables such as green spinach, red spinach, and water spinach, and made their own organic compost from rotten vegetables, fruits, dried leaves, and grasses.
To make the organic soap, the Sebangau Rangers first made their own coconut oil and purified used cooking oil, which is the main ingredients in organic soap. They then added sodium hydroxide, essential oils, and fragrant water. They boiled lemongrass and pandanus, fragrant plants which are easy to obtain because they grow around their houses. After the is soap made, it is put in a cool area for 4 – 6 weeks to solidify before using.
The last activity that the Sebangau Rangers conducted was learning about forest plants with the help of BNF’s Community Nursery members. They visited the nursery and saw the seedlings which will be planted in the burned area, including Tampohot (Syzigium sp.), Parupuk (Lophopetalum sp.), and Pulai (Alstonia scholaris). BNF has been planting seedlings in the burned area since 2017 and is committed to planting one million more trees in the next five years as a part of the reforestation targets.
The Sebangau Rangers enjoyed the Uneng Welum Project because those activities are different from what they have learnt in school. In this project, they learnt about environmental education through hands-on experience, learning directly to preserve the environment. In the future, the Sebangau Rangers will continue these activities and work to develop other activities that also have environmental benefits.