Global warming and climate change has become a more and more dire issue worldwide. Before the students head to the educational recycling station, a short talk was given by volunteers citing recent natural disasters to highlight to the youngsters the problems of climate change and the importance of environmental protection.
Brother Lee Voon Kong, one of the speakers, stressed that it may look far from us when other countries were suffering from disasters, but they affected us in some way as the world is more interconnected than ever. The fact that parts of Singapore were flooded last June following torrential rains signalled that a blessed land like Singapore could also be affected by climate change.
“Did we cause the warming of the planet? Who should be responsible for it?”
Brother Khor Chin Seng pointed out that the Earth's temperature had increased 4 degrees in the 120 years from 1880 to 2000.
Forests, which are akin to the planet's lung, are destroyed with rapid speed to fulfill Man’s desire for economic development. Surprised to learn that "every six seconds, a forest area roughly the size of a football field is chopped down", the students realized that the responsibility to protect Mother Earth actually falls on every human being.
After the talk and a quiz session prepared by their form teacher, the group followed the volunteers to the educational recycling station situated at the backyard for their long-waited hands-on session. Quick to put on gloves to sort recyclable items, some even took pictures of the sign boards of the recycling station thinking to share the location with their schoolmates.
Their form teacher, Ms Rohini d/o Ayavoo, shared with the volunteers the green effort that her students have carried out in school such as composting kitchen waste collected from the school canteen to make fertilizers.
Impressed with their endeavour, Sister Tan Paik Hui further expounded Master Cheng Yen's environmental ideals of "cleaning and reducing rubbish from the origin", ie. to purchase less and clean the recyclables before recycling them, to the students present and encouraged them to practice it in their daily life.
Tzu Chi's environmental concepts had actually rubbed off on Ms Rohini last year after she got to know Tzu Chi through the "Seeds of Hope" Bursary Programme. Soon after she learned about Tzu Chi's community recycling effort, she started gathering teachers and students to visit residents around the school neighbourhood to promote environmental awareness and to collect recyclable items.
The teacher also planned to enlist her students to help out at Tzu Chi's recycling stations monthly, explaining that the "Seeds of Hope" Bursary Programme has helped many of Yishun Secondary's students so she hoped they "can do something to repay the society's kindness". (The SOH bursary funds are gathered through public donations donated to Tzu Chi.)
The volunteers were happy to learn about it and hoped that the students can turn their learned knowledge into actions and inspire their fellow schoolmates to create a clean planet for everyone.