Green Living's objectives have always included promoting environmental responsibility and volunteering to families and the younger generation. It was with this in mind that I organised our annual Turtle Volunteer Programme, visit-and-volunteer sessions with other NGOs, and cleanup and tree-planting campaigns.
For New Year's Day 2016, I wanted to come up with a programme that would help all of us start the New Year right, and thus obtained permission from the State Forestry Dept to plant trees at a degraded area within the Kota Damansara Community Forest. I know Balu Perumal, our Science and Conservation guy in the Malaysian Nature Society secretariat, has been planting merbau saplings to be transplanted in forest reserves, and requested 50 saplings from him, which I collected on New Year's Eve. The Green Living New Year's Day Forest Cleanup and Tree Planting session was off to a great start already.
Around 15-20 people indicated on Facebook that they intended to attend the event, but on the day itself, over 35 volunteers showed up. This is a surprise since the opposite is usually the case. Since there is no registration fee or forms to fill, people usually click "Going" but don't show up since there are no consequences for not attending.
It was wonderful to see Hari, Goutham, Jey, Thiyagu, Mee Leng and some of my fellow C2R mentors and running buddies there at the forest reserve bright and early. What absolute troopers they are! We were also joined by a few members of the Kota Damansara Community Forest Society.
We took a long time meeting up with the tree-planting team because we were so busy digging up old polythene planting bags the entire trail. Some idiots on a corporate social responsibility project obviously thought that they were doing such a great job of planting trees for the forest reserve that they hadn't realised how much more harm they had caused by leaving plastic bags half embedded in soil.
We arrived at the gazebo at the top of the hill and joined the others for breakfast and refreshments. I brought enough bananas and soy milk for everyone. The Kota Damansara Community Forest Society members supplied nasi lemak wrapped in paper and banana leaf, made by a member of the local community. There was laughter and happy conversation all around.
Names were pulled out and prizewinners were loudly applauded and cheered on, even for the smallest and silliest of gifts. It helped that we had a captive audience who were still sitting there munching on their second breakfasts!
A great start to the New Year. So many people willing to do hands-on work to make a difference. So many people resolving to volunteer more and be more environmentally responsible in the new year. So many strangers turned friends (A special shoutout to Vinod, who responded to Shehryar's request for transport, and thus helped a stranger who then became a friend). So many old friendships rekindled. So many young families and parents getting their children involved in community service. So many wonderful people doing what they can to put things right.