Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our Roots & Shoots Day of Peace

On September 21, young people around the world joined Dr Jane Goodall in celebrating the Roots & Shoots Day of Peace by flying giant peace dove puppets in their communities to symbolise their commitment to peace.

“With the Peace Doves, we remind everyone of the truth they sometimes forget—that peace is possible. We celebrate all that is free and noble in the human spirit. And we celebrate all that so many people have done throughout the year—and will do next year—to create a better world,” said Dr. Goodall.

Above: Peaceful doves. Photo by K.C. Tsang.

A UN Messenger of Peace since 2002, Dr. Goodall established the global, annual Roots & Shoots Day of Peace in 2004 to encourage Roots & Shoots members and other interested individuals to promote peace in their communities and around the globe.

Above: Kids with their lanterns!

In Singapore, September marks the month of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Traditionally celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month in celebration of a bountiful Autumn harvest in China, Chinese families typically gather in the evening to drink tea, eat mooncakes, and carry lanterns.

To celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, Roots & Shoots member, Cicada Tree Eco-Place, a non-profit environmental education organization, marked this evening of nature, culture, and peace on September 12 with 15 children and their parents and teachers, drinking orchid tea, eating vegetarian mooncakes and making lanterns.

At this event held at Orchidville, an orchid farm in Mandai, children learned about native peaceful doves which symbolize peace. We talked about how one could make peace by not fighting, and making friends. The kids learned about bats, which in Chinese culture symbolise blessing. Each kid then made his or her own lantern with Chinese papercut-style motifs of peaceful doves and bats.

Above: Kids learning about the various animals.

Above: Beautiful Chinese papercstencils by Andrew Tay.

Above: Busy stencilling...

... and paper-cutting!

When night fell, everyone went for a walk with their lanterns and watched insect-eating bats take to the night sky in search of food.
Apart from bats, other animals spotted included a nightjar as it flew into the nearby forest. With the aid of Vilma's bat detector, the kids were introduced to the concept of echolocation, in which insect-eating bats use sound waves to hunt for food.

A bat detector works by converting bats' echolocation ultrasound signals, which are normally too high-pitched for us to process, to frequencies audible to the human ear. Echolocation is primarily used by insect-eating microbats (as opposed to the larger fruit-eating macrobats) to hunt for flying insects.

Above: Kids lighting their lanterns.

Above: Bat-detecting at dusk.

It was our Singaporean way of celebrating the Roots & Shoots Day of Peace!

Article by Vilma D’Rozario, edited by M.J. Tan. Photos by Vilma D’Rozario and M.J. Tan, unless otherwise stated.

Click here to learn about the Roots & Shoots Day of Peace and how to make giant peace dove puppets.

If you’d like to know how to make peaceful dove lanterns, email Andrew Tay of Cicada Tree Eco-Place.

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