“The natural environment we treat with such unnecessary ignorance and recklessness was our cradle and nursery, our school, and remains our one and only home.”
-Edward O. Wilson (2002)
I feel touched every time I read Ed Wilson’s quote. I do think about it and it is difficult for me not to care about the Earth and not to see it as much more than just a planet. What is home for you? For me it is a place and a space where I belong to, I care, I look after and can’t live without. It is where I found peace, understanding and love. I’ve been asking myself how can I share my passion with my peers and how can I engage more and more people in this crazy love for life in the Earth.
I’ve been interested in the topic of Conservation of Biodiversity for quite a long time. Fisrt from the scientific side, understanding biodiversity at its more basic level, then from the social side, understanding the knowledge, believes and perceptions of people who rely on biodiversity and now, I am in the practical side, where I hope I can facilitate a lasting change in the Otonga Cloud forest and its communities.
I see “Vivamos el Bosque” as seeds of hope and consciousness with the potential to empower children and youth to help each other to build a better world. Why did I choose non formal environmental education as the foundation of the project? Well, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) environmental education is the process of giving people the skills, perspectives, knowledge and values to live and work in a sustainable manner. The definition is sometimes difficult to understand and apply but I take “Vivamos el Bosque” as a response to the Earth’s call for help and action… as an invitation to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of our lives.
The importance of non-formal environmental education in developing countries is self-explanatory in the context of Ecuador where factors such as illiteracy, low levels of schooling, high rates of failures and desertions at the primary school level, deficiency in the public services infrastructures and poor educational materials have challenged the implementation of EE programs at the formal level. In 1994, the Ministry of Education of Ecuador incorporated the preservation of the environment as part of its educational system in order to guarantee local, regional and national development, but due to the unstable economic situation, civil organizations and the private sector were forced to assume some of the basic responsibilities of the government such as education and health.
Within contexts where EE at the formal level is limited, experiences had shown that livelihoods in poor communities in developing countries can be improved through non-formal EE education initiatives such as “Vivamos el Bosque”. Therefore, non-formal EE has been an important instrument for rural development since it involves innovative learning methods organized outside the formal school system that aim at developing practical skills, including aspects of health, sanitation and literacy to be applied in real life.
With this scenario in mind, and based on the premise that health and well-being depend upon the quality of the environment, EE and its varied learning process, blend local knowledge with technical/scientific information to foster dialogue, create action oriented solutions, and drive behavioral change instead of only delivering environmental messages to community members.
Environmental education should reach everybody, but for me, children and youth are the ones who can get the most of it. Environmental education can easily show them that it is possible to live in harmony with nature. On one side, children and youth should be aware of the current environmental crisis but they need to be empowered to work for another reality and have the skills to do it! The intention is not to blame on anybody or depress young generations, but to give them hope and inspiration. “Vivamos el Bosque” aims to empower them to become part of the solution. By giving children and youth the space and time for dialogue, reflexion and action, they can choose and build the HOME they want to live in…
What the educational program for children and the one for youth entail will be explained in detail in a separate section. Keep Checking the blog and thank you for all your inputs!