On January 19, 2013, MFF staff participated in two events in Tien Giang Province: an award ceremony for paintings of mangroves; and a visit to a mangrove plantation on Loi Quan Island. Both events were organized by MFF grantee Phu Thoi Pagoda.
The painting contest was open to all primary school children and launched in October 2012 the pagoda in collaboration with the Tien Giang Literature and Arts Association. Of the more than 600 paintings received from 64 schools, the organizers selected the top 20. The award ceremony was held at Phu Dong Primary School in Tan Phu Dong District.
After the prizes were handed out, Monk Thich Thien Chau gave a speech in which he affirmed that love of nature is fundamental to Buddhism and stressed the interaction and mutuality between humans and the ecosystems on which we depend. Trees or plants are considered living beings that no Buddhist should cut or damage. At the end of his speech, the monk appealed to all the participants to join efforts to conserve nature though practical action: “each person should plant at least one mangrove”.
After award ceremony, about 200 participants visited an area of coastal erosion in Con Cong Hamlet, Phu Tan Commune to plant mangroves. However, as the children we’re getting into the boats, a girl, who couldn’t swim, fell off into the river. Luckily, she was immediately picked out of the water by the boat handler. She was scared but bravely carried on.
The area for planting mangroves was allocated to Mr. Ngo Van Muoi Hai over 10 years ago. Pointing at some abandoned houses, he told us that more than 10 households used to practice aquaculture there before the onset of rapid erosion. He has built his house on pillars to escape getting flooded by the sea. He was happy to plant mangroves if these would survive and stop the erosion. After two hours, 500 Sonneratia were planted. Planting mangroves is tiring and we were exhausted by the time we broke for lunch at 3.30PM. The school kids told us that they’d learned some very a practical lessons about the need to conserve on mangroves.
Nguyen Thi Bich Hien - MFF SGF Manager - IUCN Viet Nam