After an eye-opening visit to a Sarawak oil palm plantation, East Malaysian Young Christian Students leaders are mobilizing their peers to preserve the local environment.
YCS leaders from all three dioceses of Sarawak state visited an oil-palm plantation recently to see for themselves the effects of environmental degradation, UCAN reports.
They also decided to start clean-up efforts in schools, and launch a Facebook group and blog to spread awareness of climate change.
Thirty-six leaders from the Young Christian Students movement in Kuching archdioceseand Miri and Sibu dioceses gathered in Sibu Diocesan Pastoral Centre March 15–18 for their 3rd East Malaysia Encounter.
During the program, which had the theme, Climate Change… No Kidding!, an officer from the Social Environmental Consultancy NGO accompanied participants to an oil-palm plantation.
They saw for themselves how the clearing of land by burning had resulted in carbon being present in the soil. The officer also explained to the young people the ill effects the plantation has had on the environment.
“I realized how important it is to protect the environment after seeing the destruction involved just to plant oil palm,” said Seamus Lim, 16, from Kuching. “This camp has taught me a lot about climate change, its effects and how to make a change in the world.”
Other participants noted that while oil palm contributes greatly to the country’s economy, chemical fertilizers used in these plantations destroy the soil and contaminate water supply.
Organizers held a debate during the program on whether humans have contributed to climate change and a discussion on the spirituality of creation. A panel of specialists, including a representative from the Islamic Information Centre in Sibu, took part in the latter.
At the end of the program, each participant made a commitment to preserving the environment in their own schools, parishes and dioceses.
Sibu diocesan participants, noting that their diocesan pastoral center already has a recycling corner, pledged to organize clean-up efforts in five schools.
Amelia Ngu, Sibu YCS coordinator, said she realized through the gathering how “trust, commitment and love among student leaders and coordinators make it possible for all to meet challenges and achieve common goals.”
Kelvin Jong, 18, from Kuching, said “wonders” can be achieved when energetic youths come together.
Youths get serious about environment (UCA News)