Dilmah Conservation (DC) has been working with the Centre for Children’s Happiness (CCH) in Jaffna and the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) to bring about reconciliation through nature.

For decades, the people of the Jaffna region have only witnessed the brutality of war. When the war ended in 2009, DC launched the landmark project – “Reconciliation Through the Power of Nature” – aimed at using nature as therapy to help foster reconciliation between communities that had been traumatised and scarred by war.

A part of that effort has been to support Nature Appreciation Clubs (NACs) within Jaffna schools. This month; DC visited six schools to review the status and activities of the clubs and to help the NACs revive themselves.

Towards this end, nearly Rs. 7,000 worth of Dilmah Conservation publications was handed over to six NACs in the following schools in Jaffna: Hindu Ladies’ College, Holy Family Convent, Stanley College, Mahajana College, Victoria College and Hindu College.

Each school received a total of 20 books that included the following titles:

  • An Introduction to Common Spiders of Sri Lanka
  • Identifying Deadly Venomous Snakes from Harmless Snakes of Sri Lanka
  • A Pictorial Guide to Uda Walawe National Park
  • Common Butterflies of Sri Lanka

Each of the schools has fairly active NACs. The Stanley College students have participated in Shramadana and tree-planting campaigns, released a DVD of their field visit to the Sinharaja Forest, conducted environment-related competitions and engaged in bird-watching. They also go to other schools and conduct introductory sessions for new NACs.

The Hindu College NAC had taken an enterprising approach and held a selection test for those interested in joining the Club. Those with the highest marks were given membership. The NAC charged a fee from students who sat for the test and donated the funds generated to the bio-laboratory of the school to build an aquarium.

In addition to the traditional NAC activities such as Shramadanas, environmental awareness programmes, competitions and bird-watching, the NAC of Victoria College has recently launched a new mission to set up an herbal garden at the school premises. School students had been requested to make contributions to the herbal garden by planting an herb. The garden is expected to help educate students on the herbs of Sri Lanka with a special focus on the types of herbs grown in the arid zone like Jaffna.

Mahajana College had marked this year’s World Environment Day with a catchword competition while Hindu Ladies’ College and Holy Family Convent have conducted Shramadana programmes within their schools and in the Jaffna city.

One of the biggest challenges these student-run NACs are facing is a lack of funds to conduct activities. This is where Dilmah Conservation hopes to be able to assist. NACs are encouraged to sell the publications provided by DC to the community in order to raise funds for the activities of the clubs.

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