To help combat climate change, Pathfinders in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took part in planting 1,400 trees in Dubai on November 10, 2019, as a part of the “Plant a Legacy” initiative spearheaded by a Dubai private school.
Seven Pathfinders, four Adventurers, two parents, and fifteen Master Guides in Training and Master Guides from the Emirates of Sharjah and Dubai in UAE participated in planting 15,000 Ghaf trees in 65 days.
The “Plant a Legacy” (PAL) project created by The Kindergarten Starters School, a GEMS Education series in Dubai, aims to combat climate change. The principal of the school, Asha Alexander, completed a United Nations Climate Change (UNCC) course and became an accredited climate change teacher. After completion, she, in turn, trained her more than 300 teachers on the course, and they also became accredited.
To apply what they learned, Alexander and her teachers launched PAL in September 2019, intending to plant 15,000 trees within a year. They started planting trees in a variety of areas around Dubai. They also started inviting other organizations to join in their initiative. Before long, they saw the response was more than anticipated, and with this overwhelming support, they realized that they did not need a year to meet their target. As they shared the idea and called other schools and companies to action, the project was completed in just 65 days.
Pathfinders became involved when the project was opened to other organizations. One of the teaching staff at the school, Claudia Bennet, thought that the project would be a great way to involve and promote the Pathfinder club at her school and beyond. The Bennets were introduced to the Pathfinder club in 2017 and enrolled their two children — one in the Adventurer club and the other in the Pathfinder club. Bennett and her husband are now volunteer instructors in the club. Over the years, she has seen a positive impact the clubs have had on her children and has been inviting her colleagues and friends to enroll their children in the clubs as well.
Bennet reached out to the club leaders hoping that by participating in this initiative, the club would be planting not only a legacy in combating climate change, but also, she said, more children could benefit if they knew of the existence of the clubs and hence plant a legacy for eternity.
“When a call came for companies to participate in PAL, she immediately informed us, requesting that we participate and come in our full uniforms,” said Jerrandy Sonsona, the director of one of the Pathfinder clubs that participated.
The planting of the 1,400 Ghaf trees reinforced to Pathfinders and Adventurers their stewardship duty in making the community a better place to live in, leaders said. They chose the Ghaf tree (also known as Jammi, Kandi, or Jand tree) because it symbolizes tolerance, is drought resistant, and survives well in harsh desert environments.
Speaking at the beginning of the event, Alexander said, “Plant a Legacy is not patented. It is everyone’s fight, every one of us is responsible; so take it and change the world.”
Clubs also interacted with the other 39 companies that participated. Most of the people were curious to find out who Pathfinders were. Before the day was over, at least one participant enquired as to how she could enroll her child in the club.
Regional church leaders explained that Pathfinder uniforms are one of many tools used in the region to open channels of communication with people of other faiths.
“When people see other people in uniform, they start asking questions, then that opens doors of opportunity in response to those questions,” they said.