|Posted by AOE on September 14, 2020 at 8:20 AM|
The Certificate Course for Eco Ambassadors, an initiative of the Archdiocesan Office for Environment (AOE), was held in 2019. Participation was enthusiastic and a lot of knowledge on Environmental Issues was imparted. Participants who unfortunately missed a session or two due to unavoidable reasons were given the opportunity to make up the sessions during the next course the following year. Then came the lockdown and that put paid to these plans.
Fortunately Technology came to the rescue and participants were given the option of attending the missed sessions online. But there was a rider – the sessions would be conducted by those who had attended the sessions the others had missed. Ms Shawna Nemesia Rebello very ably coordinated everything from PPTs, to practice sessions, to deciding between Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco Webex Meetings and Zoho Meeting. Well, she did take the session on Technology and very well too. Fr Joseph Gonsalves and Fr Luke Rodrigues SJ attended the sessions and were available for guidance.
Participants were encouraged to attend all 6 sessions, held in July and August 2020, besides the ones missed and the ones they would be taking. It was a great experience. They were happy to complete the sessions missed; and taking a session that they had originally attended was a revision and a great learning experience much like the assignments done after each session. They came from different walks of life. Some had already experienced online sessions but it was new for others. They helped each other, practised online sessions from muting and unmuting to creating content and sharing screens but on D-day all managed very well. Taking a session with like-minded adults about something all were passionate about was a pleasure. Of course, there were last minute glitches common to all online sessions but the learning took place.
They’re proud to be Eco Ambassadors once the assignments are assessed, but that’s just the beginning, not the end. The primary need is reparation for sins against our common home - waste of food and resources, consumerism and greed. We’re close to the point of no return but most people are unaware of the gravity of the situation. Creating awareness so that fewer people can plead ignorance is the first step. Saving water and electricity, segregation and composting, the 5Rs, etc. is vital but these will just take care of the symptoms. It is a short term goal. The long term goal is to transform lives, simplify and cultivate better habits. All are connected – human beings, animals and ecosystems; and all share a common home. Human beings need to move from self-centredness to thinking of the ‘Common Good’ for our ‘Common Home’ – Mother Earth.
About the sessions itself, the name of the game today is adapting, be it office, school, shopping, yoga, et al. Therefore, though some exercises had to be excluded the message came across, serious learning took place for both those conducting and those attending. They even learned more about the sessions they had already attended. In addition they learned discipline - no speaking out of turn, sticking to the topic, collaboration, and most importantly about environmental issues and the way forward. The duration of the sessions needs to be extended to enable more discussion which leads to personalisation and action. Much can be done even during lockdown and at the concluding feedback session, Bishop Allwyn D’Silva was enthusiastically assured that the Eco Ambassadors course must continue online due to the current situation, the show must go on. Eco Ambassadors will extend their full support and are sure that it will change lives and save our Common Home.
There are of course pros and cons. The session was for a shorter period of time, it had to be adapted to suit the online method, and there was limited interaction and camaraderie which is very important. On the other hand, participants will not have to wake up early on a Sunday morning to reach a fixed venue at 9 am. The travel time for some was over an hour. This would mean more people would be able to sign up. If it is held Deanery-wise some of the participants will most likely already know each other.
Participation in the online Eco Ambassadors Course is highly recommended. The Resource Persons are experts in their field but the knowledge comes across clearly in simple terms. The sessions are interesting, interactive and to the point. It can be hard hitting but when collaborative action is taken it will be effective. An example is the lowering of the level of devastation during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when the world slowed down. The world needs to unite to save Mother Earth our Common Home.
Life goes on, or will it? God is good all the time, all the time God is good!!