“We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” – Aldo Leopold
As part of the Dazeworks Pledge 1% initiative in Sri Lanka, we organized a plantation project associating school children from WP/GM/Gajaba Junior School. This school is located in Gampaha which is in the Western Province of Sri Lanka and is a very rich city in Living Standards. Unfortunately, the school is not maintained properly due to various social and cultural factors. They have classes upto 11th grade and nearly 200 children studying with the majority being girls. These children are homeless and are made to live in orphanages. Regardless of their social challenges, they score really good marks for the exams.
Children in grade 3, 4 and 7 were involved with our project and they were very excited about it. We gave them 10 plants and the students were divided into 10 teams with 2-3 children in a team. Each team was allocated to a plant and will have to take care of the trees till they finish their schooling. The school is located in a small area with limited space available to plant trees. This is why we chose 10 plants for the project.
The children were happy to plant the trees and to take care of them. We gave them another small project. We have asked them to let us know about the progress of the trees after three months’ time. And their teachers gave them targets. Children will be given gifts according to the progress made.
Our objective was not only about planting trees, we wanted to educate them and make them aware of the importance of planting and make it a habit.
We gave them Kohomba saplings (Neem trees) which is an Ayurvedic tree and educated them about the benefits of the tree as well. It is native to Southeast Asia including Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. However, the tree is now grown in many parts of the world including Florida and Arizona in the United States.
Botanical name: AZADIRACHTA INDICA
Common names: Kohomba (Sinhalese), Veppai (Tamil), Margosa, Neem tree (English), Sadao (Thai), Tamar (Burma), Neem (Nepal), Nim (Bengali), Neeb ( Arabic)
Neem is mainly used for medicinal purposes and cures a lot of diseases. Apart from its Ayurvedic value, it prevents soil erosion and helps in soil conservation and improvement. Kohomba improves soil fertility and water holding capacity, can neutralize acidic soils and is used for the reclamation of degraded land. The children and teachers seemed really interested and happy about the program.
This event was even more special to us since it is the first ever Pledge 1% program conducted by the Dazeworks Sri Lanka office and it was a great success. We would like to thank the Director of Education in Gampaha region for giving us this opportunity. We would also like to thank the Principal and staff for giving us a warm welcome and for being such gracious hosts.