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World Environment Day 2016

OELO celebrated its third annual World Environment Day June 4th, 2016 with 8 student nature clubs at Lycée d’Etat Charles Mefane. This year’s overall theme was “Protecting Our Wetlands.” Each club decorated a stand that exhibited their individual themes for the year related to wetland protection, from keeping the Ogooué clean to protecting ecosystem services, and shared their activities and art projects over the year. The club members also presented poems, songs, sketches, and dances for the event guests. This year, the clubs competed for best stand, best presentation, and best stewardship project, with prizes for both primary and high school levels. The members enthusiastically decorated the stands, which featured a range of art and craft projects: plants in upcycled flower pots, handmade vases and trash bins from bamboo, wall paintings and decorated recycled tins, a Noah’s ark sculpture, booklets of environmental poetry, jewelry from recycled materials, greeting cards with conservation messages, among other imaginative creations.

As tradition, the ceremony began with the unveiling of a new biodiversity mural by local artist Achille Mombo, featuring many species  found in wetlands of the Lambaréné lake region. A representative from the Governor’s office of Lambaréné and the Director of the high school unveiled the artwork. To raise awareness about wetlands in Gabon, Rhandy Junior Mengom'Ebang from the Ministry of Water and Forests presented about the Bas Ogooué Ramsar Site where Lambaréné is located - the largest wetland of international importance in Gabon.

After Environmental Education Coordinator Rébecca Djanivenda introduced the nature clubs and described their activities that year, the students began their presentations with awareness speeches about different environmental concerns. The primary schools presented first with a poem about slender-snouted crocodile conservation from Les Anges de la Nature at St. Joseph and an appeal to father and uncle fisherman to respect fish reproduction from Les Gardiens de la Nature from Ecole Protestant du Foyer. La Main Verte of Immaculée Conception followed with an interpretive manatee dance and musical recital by a club member who made an instrument from upcycled materials. The high schools followed, sharing poems about ecosystem services and biodiversity, a rap that implored listeners to avoid water pollution, and a sketch about endangered species.

OELO awarded over $2,000 in scholarships and prizes for the winners of contests for best Nature Club stands and activities, most motivated students, and overall most engaged nature clubs. La Main Verte from Immaculée Conception won for best primary school stewardship project, in which they completed cleanups at their school and along the road in front of their school and an awareness campaign at neighboring schools on the importance of the manatee and keeping our environment clean. Focusing on protecting the Ogooué River and the environment, Nature Pour Christ from Alliance Chrétienne earned the prize at the high school level for their monthly church cleanups as well as their cleanup of a nearby neighborhood. Judges from the audience voted for the best presentations: Les Hommes Verts from Lycée Privé Janvier Nguema Mboumba won with their theme of endangered species at the high school level and La Main Verte won the primary school for their performances about the African manatee. Lycée Charles Mefane and La Main Verte won best stands, making Immaculée Conception winners in all three categories! Following, OELO presented 14 students with scholarships for the next school year as a reward for their motivation, commitment to their clubs, and all their hard work. The final prize, a trip to Tsam Tsam, for the two best clubs went to Nature’s Fuel at Lycée Charles Mefane and to Nature Pour Christ from Alliance Chrétienne. They were incredibly excited and proud of their clubs!

Afterward, everyone enjoyed a party with snacks and drinks and enjoyed the recycled bottle fish art installation borrowed from OELO’s World Fish Migration Day event.

Thanks to all the nature club members for their hard work and creativity. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next year!