The JEA Secretary, Fr. Sunny Jacob, SJ, in their regional Newsletter highlights the importance of the Laudato Si’ encyclical for schools. He invites Jesuit Schools in the JEA Network to deepen their knowledge of the ‘eco’ encyclical, recommending a whole range of resources and actions.
Students are encouraged to join Tarumitra (Friends of trees), a large student organisation in India, which has as its mission “to protect and promote a healthy environment on Earth”.
This movement “has contributed significantly to the ecological awareness in the Country. We have got consultancy status in the UN too. It is purely a student’s movement conceived by the Jesuits of Patna province (1998) and now it is a project of the South Asian Conference” says Fr Sunny.
This movement covers a network of hundreds of high schools and colleges all over India. Tarumitra has also had several full time volunteers from India and abroad.
- To spread ecological sensitivity
- To equip its members with skills in handling local environmental problems
- To organize campaigns for the preservation of bio-diversity
- To promote a spirituality and a world view that is earth friendly
At the 2010 United Nations Summit on climate change in New York, 13-year-old Tarumitra student and environment activist Yugratna Srivastava asked more than 100 world leaders the following question: “If you have all the answers, why do we have so many questions?” Tarumitra has a wide range of activities and campaigns working for an eco-friendly India.
On their Campaigns page, this is how Tarumitra summarises their activities.
“Tarumitra students have taken out massive rallies, organized protest demonstrations, resisted the felling of trees and forests, built roadside gardens, raised rare trees in genetic nurseries, gone on long nature-treks, cleaned up garbage dumps, “taxed” people who spread garbage, organized rallies for protecting migratory birds, campaigned for proper repair of roads for reducing vehicular pollution, organized door-to-door contact campaigns and are on a constant crusade to protect bio-diversity.”
Photos: Tarumitra website
For more information on the work of Tarumitra check out www.tarumitra.org
Further resources for schools highlighted are from Catholic Earthcare Australia, the ecological agency of he Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. This website has a series of community engagement initiatives and houses an excellent range of resources for schools, youth groups and parishes www.catholicearthcare.org.au
Here are the actions Fr. Sunny recommends for schools in India:
- Watch Laudato Si’ – An urgent appeal for action and reflect on the discussion points
- Join TARUMITRA
- Start a garden at your school.
- Hold an Encyclical Youth Workshop for students.
- Encourage students and teachers to sign our global Catholic Climate Petition.
- Encourage your school to Fast for the Climate and celebrate Meatless Friday.
- Use the Guide to Laudato Si’ and discuss the challenges and opportunities raised in Laudato Si’.