Group photo at the Rotary Club funded garden extension site
On 25th February 2016, The Rotary Club of Victoria officially handed over the Green Health on the map project over to Nature Seychelles in a ceremony held at The Sanctuary in Roche Caiman. The project is an initiative funded by the Rotary Club of Victoria and implemented by Nature Seychelles with the aim of sharing knowledge with Seychellois on healthier lifestyles through connecting with and conserving nature.
“The Rotary Club has helped us to start a project to integrate agriculture with the environment and to trial climate-smart planting,” Dr Shah, Nature Seychelles CEO said in his speech during the event. “As you can see we have wrapped our eco-garden into The Sanctuary. The Rotary Club has financed the new welcome panel in The Sanctuary, extension of our eco-garden as well as flyers on our Green Health Program.”
The ethos of the Green Health program is an all-inclusive approach to addressing the current global climate crisis and nutrition security. The program combines conservation, eco-friendly farming through the Heritage Garden, healthy living and green exercises. In fact, Nature Seychelles recently welcomed its new Eco-Health Manager Roxanne Radovanovic who will be running fitness, green yoga and meditation sessions at the Green Heath Centre in The Sanctuary.
The new welcome panel at The Sanctuary funded by The Rotary Club of Victoria
Through the program, Nature Seychelles also promotes wellbeing and has in the past carried out targeted outreach activities aimed at special needs groups in the community including the elderly, orphans / vulnerable children, and youth battling addictive behaviour.
“In its 47 years of existence, the Rotary Club of Victoria has carried out various literacy and community projects. On behalf of Rotary Club of Victoria, it is my pleasure to do the handing over today of this very valuable project to Nature Seychelles,” Mrs Foram Varsani, President of the Rotary club said in her address at the ceremony. “We trust these enhanced facilities will bring great benefit to the community, helping children learn and preserve nature as well as provide healing.”
Indeed, The Sanctuary is used by various school groups including wildlife clubs who visit the site to learn more about the environment through activities such as pond dipping and bird watching. Primary and Secondary school students also visit the site for experiential learning. Post-secondary school students have also used The Sanctuary for their studies including pharmacy students interested in furthering their knowledge on medicinal plants which grow in the demonstration Heritage (organic) Garden.
Future teacher takes a closer look at what is available under the Green Health Program
In attendance at the handing over ceremony was a group of third year students from the Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education (SITE), and who were also present during the launch of the project last year. The students were a mix of early childhood and primary school teacher trainees.
“I think it is very useful for us as future teachers to be here and know what we can integrate in our lessons,” Sheryldanne Rose, a primary school teacher trainee said after the event. “I believe that if our students can see The Sanctuary and Heritage Garden for themselves, they will have a better understanding and be able to help more in protecting our environment in Seychelles and hopefully want to eat healthier.”
As is the case in this collaboration with the Rotary Club of Victoria, Nature Seychelles has over the years partnered with various organisations to further its conservation work and reach Seychellois with various services as well as information. Geffroy’s farm is such a key partner, and eco-friendly farm that together with Botanica Restaurant partnered with Nature Seychelles to form an organic network for Seychelles. Jean-Paul Geffroy, the farm owner continues to provide farming advice and seedlings for the Heritage Garden.
Dr Shah stressed Seychelles' vulnerability to the global climate crisis and the need, as one of the smallest nations, to address these challenges head-on
In the words of Dr Shah: “At Nature Seychelles we have always said that to leapfrog the human and financial constraints we have to join together in genuine long-term partnerships. Organisations and individuals for sure, but also we need to join sectors and work areas.”