Written by Verawati Aprillia (BNF Communications Assistant)
Lessons don’t always have to be in the classroom. Sometimes we have to put theories and ideas into practice on-the-ground. Our ‘Anak Sebangau’ children recently went on a little adventure into the peat-swamp forests of Jumpun Pambelom (Dayak language for ‘the living forest’), Pulang Pisau, Central Kalimantan.
Anak Sebangau (or ‘children of Sebangau’) is for children who live in Kereng Bangkirai, adjacent to the Sebangau National Park. It is an education programme for children who want to improve their skills (including maths, reading and writing) and to gain more knowledge about the environment. Children are from 5 to 18 years old and we currently have 73 youngsters who join us every weekend. A lot of these children do not attend school. Anak Sebangau is led by BNF education staff and assisted by several volunteers at the Kereng harbour every Saturday and Sunday.
Last month we took 31 of the older Anak Sebangau kids to Jumpun Pambelom to learn about the forests, wildlife and biodiversity first hand. For many of the children it was their first time to this forest. On arrival we were greeted by Mr. Ir.Januminro, the Forest Manager. He showed the children photos of the forest fires in 2015 and explained how the team heroically fought the flames. There was also an indicator board that shows the level of danger from the annual forest fires. The children were given a live demonstration of how to extinguish the fires by digging a water bore and using water hoses. The kids were very excited to try it too!
The children learnt how to identify animals and plants, the medicinal benefits of the plants, about the threats to the forest and how to protect it. Mr. Ir.Januminro invited children to participate in preserving the forest by planting trees. The day was full of fun and learning. During one of the games, the children suddenly ran toward the forest!! What made them all eager to run back into the forest? An orangutan! Yes, how lucky to see a female orangutan with her infant making a nest to sleep. Before this experience the children only heard stories about how orangutans live, how orangutans sleep, how orangutans eat and this time they saw it with their own eyes. Of course this is an amazing experience for the children, and it makes them even more concerned about orangutans.
Through fieldtrips like this, we hope children will become ambassadors of the environment by sharing this information and experiences with their friends and families in Kereng. Positive messages can be disseminated to encourage more people to care about the environment and of course feel proud of the forest and endemic wildlife in Borneo.