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Environmental impact of immersions

Hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor"
Pope Francis, Laudato Si.

Caritas Australia's development programs always consider environmental concerns. Every program seeks to be sustainable and to promote care for the earth's resources.

If you decide to design a school partnership, perhaps you could consider what kinds of mutual learning goals you might work towards. For example, if schools in a global partnership embarked on a unit on sustainability or stewardship of the local environment, over time the mutual learning outcomes would be significant.

Both school communities could learn each other's conservation strategies and techniques, providing a rich context where students can learn from each other and cross culturally about how to work in partnership towards a common goal - care for creation.

Considering mutual learning goals beyond a visit and fundraising could also open up further possibilities to realise the rich potential of a global partnership for your school.

Discuss:

  • Does the program you are supporting/visiting have a care for creation aspect?
  • If the community is actively involved in creation care activities, could this be something your community could learn from or collaborate on?
  • If your program encompasses a travel element, have you considered the environmental impact of your travel?

Mr Oki's story

We would like to share Mr Oki's story about his school's stewardship efforts in East Timor. Mr Oki's story is just one example of the kinds of learning activities a school in an economically poorer community might be undertaking. We hope it inspires you to think about common learning areas you could explore if you decide to work with a partner community.

"This is an incredible change that we never dreamt about. This change is not easy. This was because of the support of the whole school community including teachers, students and parents."
Mr Oki

School Environmental Conservation Program in East Timor

The environmental Education Program has been managed by Caritas Australia in partnership with a community in Oecusse. Mr. Oki has led the program since its beginning in 2006. Under his leadership the school environment has been transformed from unproductive and dangerous to a verdant and forested school community area.

Mr Oki

Before the program, the school environment harbored many hazards for students. The land in and around the school was unproductive and bare, providing little shade for students during the hot dry season. During the rainy season, the barren land became extremely muddy and prone to minor floods and landslides. These obstacles made it difficult and dangerous for students trying to reach the school. Caritas Australia started the program in the primary school in Fatubena after it was categorised as a vulnerable community location in 2005.

Caritas Australia worked with Mr.Oki, teachers and parents to begin work to conserve their natural and local environment by supporting the community with training, tree seedlings, farming and waste collection equipment. Now, the whole school community including students, teachers and parents are taking responsibility by caring for the school environment.

The school has developed a natural environment that is thriving with trees, plants and a kitchen garden which has become the base food stock for the school. They are also using their forest area as a learning centre to deepen their understanding about the relationship between human beings and nature. Together, Mr.Oki's community has demonstrated how care for creation is indeed, care for one another.