Kirjoittanut pskehitysmaaseura | Toukokuu 25, 2014

Truut! Elephants came to Savo, now it’s time to break the chain

TRUUT! That’s the way it started. Elephant drawings everywhere! It was superb to see how enthusiastic the pupils of Iisvesi Primary School, Haapaniemi Primary School, Martti Ahtisaari Primary School and the Nature Club at Snellman Primary School were, after visits to their schools that featured on African wildlife and nature. The 7-8 year olds took with zeal to come up with magnificent and realistic drawings of elephants, despite the fact that not many of them have seen one in the wild.

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The Pohjois-Savo Society for Development Cooperation (Pohjois-Savon kehitysmaaseura) is answering to the call for raising awareness about the plight of elephants and rhinos in Africa that has been called on by many wildlife conservation campaigns like Hands Off Our Elephants and iWorry of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Estimates are that 1 elephant dies every 15 minutes and at this rate our children and our children’s children shall not live to see an elephant in the wild. Our Society is a small one, but we thought we should lend our voice to this important call for action.

Located in Finland, we are far removed from the daily plight that wildlife conservationists in Africa see everyday. However, we do have many amongst us that travel far and wide, and the world is indeed a smaller place. We cannot ignore what is happening on the other side of the world. We also travel to places where we might just end up buying a trinket made of ivory and we interact a lot with people and cultures that uphold misbeliefs about uses of ivory. A voice against ivory trade and poaching of wildlife for ivory is important no matter where we are in the world.

With this in mind, we held an elephant themed workshop where we had a story-time corner, a crafting corner and a dance workshop. It was the beginning of the summer they say, it was shining brightly outside, yet there were about 80 participants, both old and young, saying TRUUT! The event opened up with a lively performance ‘Dancing on the Savanna’, two afro-dance pieces performed by the dancers at the dance school, Kuopio Tanssiopisto, and choreographed by dance-instructor Salla Pakarinen-Räsänen.

RosiJaHarriJaTaulu

Board Member of Kuopio City Harri Auvinen gave an opening speech and underlined the support that Kuopio City has for activities that embrace children, art and culture and on such important themes related to nature and the environment. Roseanna Avento, a founding member of the Society, encouraged the participants to get to know elephants a little better, by visiting the Kuopio City Main Library, where the drawings will be exhibited until the 2nd of June 2014 in the children’s section. Lauri Henttonen gave a valuable contribution by donating one of his magnificent elephant photographs, taken at the Kruger National Park, to the Society for use on badges and we also auctioned off a blow-up of his elephant photograph.

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There was a prize-giving for some of the drawings and the children proudly came up, with highlights being 4 foster elephants from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Iisvesi Primary School fostered Kamok, Haapaniemi Primary School fostered Kauro, Martti Ahtisaari Primary School fostered Suswa and Snellman Primary School’s Nature Club fostered Quanza. The Society wishes to thank Toivala Foundation, Driving School Ave and Kuopio Nature Society for donating the funds for this purpose.

The main event ended with a dance performance also done by the little dancers at Kuopio Dance School, on V-Day (14.2), that advocates for violence against women. Women trafficking, drugs and arms trades and terrorism are known to be financed through the illicit ivory trade, thus the dance theme was fitting for elephants too. Imagine the matriarchs singing along to the V-Day song Break the Chain by Tena Clark: ‘No more excuses, nor more abuses, This is my body, my body’s holy, We are mothers, we are teachers, We are beautiful, beautiful creatures…. it’s time to break the chain! Check out the video of our little elephant ambassadors dancing to Break the Chain on our FB page!

A little region that we call North Savo in Finland is now activated and a little more aware of the plight of wildlife facing extinction because they carry ivory. The work must not stop here! Let’s hope we can get 1 billion rising for this too! TRUUT!

R. Avento 25.5.2014

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