Presidential thumbs-up for Wildlife Clubs

A good project, hard work and youthful enthusiasm paid off for the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles at last week’s National Agriculture-Horticulture Show, when Seychelles' head of state President James Michel and his party of officials stopped by to take a look at their Heritage Gardens display.

President Michel took time out at the Wildlife Clubs’ display to drink a cup of citronelle tea and chat to the members of the Colibri Wildlife Club running the stand. Accompanied by the Vice President, ministers and the show’s organisers, the President was briefed by teenage WCS members Isis Rath, Elissa Lalande, Belinda Baptiste and Fatima Horace about the medicinal and nutritional properties of the plants on display.

Adding his comments to the Wildlife Clubs’ visitors’ book, President Michel wrote, “Very impressive. Congratulations and keep up the good work, now and in the future. Promote this culture as much as possible.”

The Heritage Gardens project was started in 2005 with the aim of creating a self-sustaining educational tool, able to inform young people about the cultural, nutritional, medicinal and environmental importance of plant crops traditionally cultivated in Seychelles. Funded by the German Embassy Small Grants Programme and developed with the assistance of the Department of Natural Resources, it is now active in 15 schools and is continuing to grow, with more Wildlife Clubs keen to add the conservation-in-action message and lessons of the Heritage Gardens to their schools.

“As a non-governmental organisation, the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles are able to reach out to schools and local communities in a way that government organisations are perhaps unable to do. However, to receive the support of senior government officials, such as the president, is always a welcome boost to our work,” said Wildlife Clubs chair Nirmal Shah.

Through the Heritage Gardens the club members learn about nutrition, tradition, health, medicine, culture, history, biology and community. And all of these lessons are delivered in an interactive and enjoyable manner which cannot always be achieved in the more formal setting of a classroom
“Possibly the greatest strength of the Heritage Garden project is the fact that it covers such a wide range of learning experiences,” said Mr Shah.

In addition to comments by the president and other visitors to the stand, the visitors’ book was also added to by the Minister for Education, Bernard Shamlaye, who had a few words of thanks for the young Wildlife Club members who showed him round the display.
“Congratulations! Thank you for the explanations. Keep up the good work in your classrooms and your gardens. I enjoyed meeting you,” wrote the minister.

On display at the Wildlife Clubs stand were traditionally used medicinal plants such Neem, lalang bef, bwa malgas and zenzanm maron as well as the more familiar citronelle and herbs such as rosemary and oregano, still commonly used in cooking today.

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