Children Discuss the Protection of their Environment
By Heidi Trautmann
It was a touching sight to see over two hundred children in their school uniforms plus Conference T-shirts flock into the conference room at the Hotel Club Acapulco carrying their contributions to the project between them. Youngsters from primary schools all excited but very orderly moved into their seats in front. The room was filled with murmurs and the noises of last minute preparations. The teachers and older students were hanging up paintings and arranging the tables with the research results of many months’ work.
Two young ladies from Kuskor (environmental association), both biologists Havva Dinc and Damla Beton helped at the reception desk registering the conference members and guests and supporting the organisers to get some order into the onset. One school from Girne and one from Lapta had received the invitation to participate at the conference by the Ministry of Education only the day before the event, so about 70 children stood there and extra chairs had to brought in; they had no idea what it was all about, and I am sure, were they informed in time they would have loved to contribute their own works.
The Minister of Tourism, Mr Ersan Saner and the minister of Education, Mr Kemal Dürüst who had come with a big entourage to settle down in the front row, did long opening speeches about the importance of a clean island for tourism which later during the course of the conference the children put right to emphasize the creation of a healthy environment for our own sake. The officials left early and gave an encouraging wave to the children.
In the course of last year a committee of four persons, the deeply engaged teachers Mrs Şansel Fırtınaer and Mrs Fatma Aksu from Eastern Mediterranean Primary School, Mr Dalman Zaifoğlu from Çatalköy Primary School and Mrs Irene Raab-Marancos from Kaleidoskop Turizm, had been planning, organising and constantly been consulting each other on the progress of preparations and were meeting regularly for further discussions, Mrs Fatma Aksu led through the day as conferencier and she did a fabulous job calling up the various groups. The head mistress of the Eastern Mediterranean Primary School, Mrs Aygül San, was very sincerely supporting our cause and had certificates for all participating children printed to be distributed at the end. The organisers are very grateful for the support of so many engaged people, said Mrs Irene Raab-Marancos, and we hope that not only schools but also the public will be motivated by the research projects displayed and discussed at our conferences.
The programme started with the very young ones with a small play to show how to keep our world clean. I think it is important to mention the participating schools by name, the children aged between 6 and 16 came from, as it might encourage other schools to join the movement: Eastern Mediterranean Primary School, Çatalkoy Primary School, Alsançak Primary School, 9 September Primary School, Karşıyaka Merkez Primary School, Levent College Nicosia, Özel Eğitim Lefkosa, Eastern Mediterranean College, Sht.Turgut Ortaokul, Near East College.
The presented works and lectures were of deep going meaning and impact; the lectures were well presented by the children, extremely well read with loud voice and confidence. On a huge screen video films and slides were shown to demonstrate the steps of their research work. Materials such as plastic and paper had been examined for their chemical contents and suggestions were made of how to best dispose of the society waste. Some groups concluded that it would be best to avoid certain things altogether, such as plastic bottles, cups and plates. Between the lectures some groups performed plays and songs which brought colour and laughter into the conference procedure.
One event occurred that left a bad taste with everybody, when nearly 40 school children left the conference room for lunch in the middle of a presentation, children and teachers from the schools which had come unprepared and uninformed, on the late invitation by the officials, without considering how hurt the children on stage would feel. The conference children do all this work for all of us and all should listen to it.
The conference gave us all a big appetite which was taken care of by Mr Ünal Çaginer, owner of Hotel Club Acapulco, and with a grand gesture he had also accepted the extra 70 children who came as a total surprise for the organisers. Without his support to invite the children into his conference centre – and this already for the second year – the event would not have been possible. It shows his sincere interest for our environment. At the end of the day the children were singing their special Conference song and were riding home, the ones to Famagusta were taken by the Göçmen bus drivers Malyali and Debretti, a big thank you goes to those for the free transport.
Now, after the conference it will be time for the organisers to sit down and resume the things achieved and start recording the results. Children and teachers back in their schools will also discuss the event, compare the results and make future plans of what else can be done. They have realized the manifold problems, and will try to boost the movement among their families, friends and the public.
The avalanche has been kicked loose, let us wish it develops to an all embracing movement. Go on, children, kick some more!