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Students learn how to fight bush fires at Fondes Amandes annual Gayap


Students from five educational institutions and also local and international environmentalists recently joined the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP) for its Forest Fire Prevention Gayap, the annual 2-day event staged by the NGO to help communities learn how to prevent the common dry season hazard of bush fires.

This year’s event was held on March 22-23 at the FACRP’s headquarters in the hills of St. Ann’s.

On Students Day (March 22), students from Servol, St. Francois Girls College,Final Generation Mission Academy, La Seiva RC and Bethlehem Girls RC visited the Gayap and gained hands-on experience in environmental protection techniques. Hillside hikes helped the students learn about the importance of the forest and exposed them to the uses of different herbs.  Later in the day, guides from Fondes Amandes led brief sessions in forest fire prevention, including fire suppression drills which demonstrated how trails are cleared to create fire traces that help contain forest fires.

Some of this information was not new to the students from La Seiva RC and Bethlehem Girls RC , who participate in the Atlantic Environmental Education Series.  Conducted by Fondes Amandes in partnership with LNG producer Atlantic, the Atlantic Environmental Education Series introduces environmental management to primary school students in two sessions held every year, a session each for the rainy and dry seasons.

Speaking about the Gayap, Kemba Jaramogi, Technical Director of the FACRP said that students and environmentalists alike were fascinated by the event’s showcase of plant life in the St. Ann’s hills and the several techniques that can be used to protect the environment.  “The field experience allows the kids to better understand what’s happening in the environment,” Jaramogi said.

Other activities on the day included an animal corner mounted by the Wake Up Call Shelter – a wildlife orphanage and rehabilitation centre – which featured a caiman, boa constrictor, manicou and some tortoises; and a display of forest species by the National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago (NHTT).  Students were encouraged to walk nearby trails and collect plant and moss samples, and then return to view them under the microscope at the NHTT’s booth.

Ms. Gillian Timothy, teacher at Bethlehem Girls’ R.C., said that the experience at the Gayap was very enlightening and fun for the students, particularly because of their interaction with the wildlife. “They definitely will be visiting again and building on what they learn in the Environmental Education series,” Ms. Timothy said.

‘Gayap’ is a word derived from the Carib language, that means “”a helping hand given by friends and neighbours for a common purpose””.  The annual Gayap is one of several programme conducted by the FACRP to help build local awareness about the environment. Other initiatives include tree-planting, an organic nursery and the annual Atlantic Environmental Education Series. Launched in 2014, the Atlantic Environmental Education Series is conducted by Fondes Amandes in partnership with LNG producer Atlantic, and is part of the company’s commitment to Sustainability.