“You can’t force people to care about the natural environment, but if you encourage them to connect with it, they just might.” — Jennifer Nini
When Vandana Shiva said “in nature’s economy the currency is not money, it is life” when Laurence Overmire said “we are the last generation with a real opportunity to save the world”, and when Margaret Mead said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has…” The youth is the wind of promise, because whatever they touch together influences. And when their touch is on betterment, they inspire entire communities. Thus youth is a force to reckon with mindfully, for betterment, always for betterment.
As a club driven by that force, RACFOSUOC has always been passionate about environmentalism and conservation since its inception. The club’s Environmental Service Avenue is dedicated to organizing projects to promote sustainability and assist in conserving and preserving the ecosystem and its integrated components. And that’s why the Environmental Services Avenue of RACFOSUOC of the year 2021-22 thought to invest all of what they have to make a striking impact, through multiple approaches, for mother nature.
That’s how the club’s giant venture for the love of the environment, the project “Mihi Man Dige” was given life.
Emerging from chrysalises to unfurl their resplendent wings as they glisten in the rays of a glorious sun – wings that pulsate almost rhythmically to Nature’s silent song – butterflies are the paragon of the miracle of Life. These little angels add color and vitality to the world. The first phase of the project was titled “Little Wings” with the intent to create an urban forest under the theme of a butterfly garden at the university premises. The forest was to become a safe haven for the sweet creatures.
So starting off with the much-awaited first phase of “Mihi Man Dige”, “Little Wings” kicked in as showers of enthusiasm rained on. The volunteer contribution was overwhelming. As we asked for the necessary plants to bring up the respective butterflies, 70+ volunteers came up for help.
The thrill was real. We sensed our venture was going to be huge as our dreams were slowly turning into goals from one meeting to another. And we had to buy time. Therefore, while we were coming up with plans for our big planting day, to bring up the hype, we organized a butterfly photography competition, “Fairy Shots”.
Fairy Shots, the ultimate butterfly photography competition, organized by our club was an attempt to bring our upcoming butterfly garden to the limelight. The enthusiasm we saw in nature lovers while accepting submissions was overwhelming. We got 27 submissions for it. We chose winners in two categories. The Most Talented Photograph was chosen by our DP directors while the Most Popular Photograph was chosen via Facebook votes. Cute Cactus joined hands with us as our official gift partner, and with the help of them and many others, we were able to conclude the project, marking it a success.
We started preparing the ground for the butterfly garden, before our big day. So many Rotaractors volunteered daily to create the satisfying setting. On the 22nd of May, we invited all our volunteers for the planting of trees. It was a good day. Team spirit was flourishing and the cheerful faces planting their hopes in our butterfly garden were a sight to see. Our day was blessed with the honorable presence of Professor Channa Ekanayake, and Professor Nihal Dayawanse. All the activities were done under their loving guidance. When all the planting was done, we sang songs, to caress our fatigue. Since then, our volunteers have been taking turns in watering the plants, and taking care of them daily, which clearly brought out the sustainability of this project.
Since the enthusiasm was on a whole different level, we proceeded to the second phase of “Little Wings”, “An Insight to Butterfly Gardening” which was an entire session organized to make our volunteers know-it-alls. This session was conducted by Mr. Pasindu Rajapakse, member of the Young Zoologist Association, and Observer and Identifier of iNaturalist on the 28th of May, 2022 via zoom. It was almost the after party for our entire phase. “Little Wings” concluded with releasing the photo album of the butterfly gardening day.
Nature soothes the soul’s lovely wild, and butterflies bring the tingles to life! How lucky we are, to walk this Earth where gorgeous kaleidoscopes of butterflies flutter in freedom right before our eyes. Moreover, how lucky we are to summon them, to be able to treat mother nature with all we have, to encourage entire communities to take our hand while we do so, and to share the same noble dream. We pray we brought a smile to our beloved mother nature’s face and we wrap our gesture here, in the hope of making her even more proud, in the future.
By Rtr. Udari De Silva and Rtr. Yowan Dias
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