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Dream Big

Paving the way to a better future.

Conservation Fusion June 2016 - Fri Jun 03, 2016 @ 02:26AM
Comments: 133

We believe that empowering children and allowing them to participate in the restoration of our ecosystems will inspire, educate and demonstrate how important it is to appreciate and preserve our natural resources for the future. Reforestation programs with our local partners are a key component in Conservation Fusion’s projects at three rural areas across Madagascar.

Through our collaboration with the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, we are able to engage various schools and the community in the reforestation program. Annually, we are planting thousands of trees in order to restore, preserve and protect our environment. Tree planting is just one way to ensure we are restoring the loss of forest. Additionally, reforestation adds value to our responsibility to provide a greener and healthier environment.


Through various efforts in educating and promoting local ownership, we are proud of our work as local people are now becoming aware of the importance of even one tree they are planting. Community awareness raising is not something that can happen just in one second, it takes time to educate but the results are palpable. Local communities like schools, women`s associations, teachers, village leaders... especially those who are living near the forests acquired meaningful learning on how their today`s actions determine their future.


Lemurs play a vital role in our forest ecosystem by dispersing trees seeds and are known as seed dispersers. They are helping us restore the forest and are a component of our environmental education curriculum to ensure that communities understand the interdependence of the forest, lemurs and we human beings. For example, if we kill lemurs, we are losing key players in the forest cycle and therefore we cannot fully enjoy what the forest gives us : water, food, fruits, clean air, medicine, protection from floods...


One child is able to plant more than 10 trees during our tree planting events. They do it with smiles, songs and joys...they`re leaving their footprint and legacy of a beautiful and healthy planet. If each of us around the world~ that’s 7 billion people~ is willing to take action to plant one tree, what change will it have on our planet?


As we are now approaching the celebration of the World Environment Day on the 5th June which is a worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention but also provides an opportunity for us citizens of the world to take action. This is just one day to mark the celebration, but each day should be environment day, as each day nature provides us a lot and in return we should be willing to give the little we can do. Find ways to contribute in bringing your own footprint to our planet by volunteering, by supporting conservation efforts and works, by planting trees, by recycling, by using eco-friendly products, by reducing energy use.... start now... and be the change.

 

Comments: 133
Conservation Fusion - Fri Apr 15, 2016 @ 02:50AM
Comments: 46

Conservation Fusion is an active non-profit environmental organization promoting education for the protection and conservation of our environment. For years we have been implementing conservation programsmainly In the Island of Madagascar, which isfamous for its rich and unique biodiversity. Madagascar also has challenging multifaceted aspects which are rooted to the high rate of poverty and inequalities, leading advocacy, and community mobilization. Conservation Fusion’s outreach programs within local communities teach conservation education in order to protect the environment.

We are partnering with Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, an organization thatleads scientific researches on species diversity in order to help agencies & organizations maximize the impact of their conservation efforts. When we talk about enhancing environment conservation and protection,research is the main component because it helps us to identify the key issuesand know what is there before we can protect species and forests. Complementary to the research is education because research without education cannot help us save our biodiversity.

It takes approximately three (3) days to reach the village of Lavavolowhich is a dry spiny forest in southwestern Madagascar. This region is one of the few remaining homes of the Critically Endangered radiated and spider tortoises known to the Malagasy as sokake. We have a long way to go to engage the local community to protect their heritage. The current economic and social conditions of Madagascar is such that more than 80% of the population lives under the poverty line and worsened by the cycled political crisis that led to a vicious circle of socio-economic issues that trapped Madagascar’s development. The southern part of Madagascar also faces various daily challenges- mainly access to water, access to quality education and health care services,and food security. The southern endemic biodiversity as well is facing pressing challenges that may lead to the extinction of the radiated tortoise, predicted to be in 20 years, due mostly to illegal pet trade, illegal hunting for illegal exportation, and slash and burn. 

The village of Lavavolo, about 8 kilometers from Itampolo, embodies the typical landscape of the south with simple and little houses home to several households which include mainly members of the same tribe with strongholds on traditions and customs that make their pride. It has the most beautiful beach I’ve seen with a beautiful landscape and beautiful people we have had the chance to interact with. They live a simple life and some people have never seen their faces in the mirror. No fancy hotel or any sign of luxury is around. Water is what they qualify as luxurious simply because they have to walk for hours to fetch waters.In our expedition we live in tents and set them up near the village and for sure you do not need an alarm to wake up in the morning because the chickens and the sheep will do it for you.


For several years we have worked in this village and we are now considered as part of the community. We do not only come there and tell people “do not cut trees , do not hunt animals, do not practice slash and burn…. Protect lemurs…”, we come to teach a better way to survive and yet protect the environment. Most of the children of the village do not go to school, they stay at home helping their parents to get foods because school is located in Itampolo and children have to walk far to attend school back and forth and typically from the South the temperature can reach 38°C, and moreover they do not have enough food, if they are lucky enough they can have two meals a day if not once or nothing a day. In those conditions, parents and children prefer to stay in their villages.



But we like to engage the community in our work, we come to them to talk and get their insights and aspirations. Children of this remote village dreamed of having a school in their village, they thought their dreams would never be a reality as they thought this will be impossible. Most of these children dream of becoming a responsible adult with job that will allow them to lift themselves and their community out of poverty…they dream big. Then the idea of a dream school come naturally to us because their dream was contagious and affected us. We do not really know where to get the funds to make this dream a reality but westarted to raise funds and mobilize donors of all kinds to help us give hope to those kids of Lavavolo. 



In 2014, the local people offered the property on which to build the school and we start the building construction. Construction materials were to be bought and carried from Toliara to the Village and had a long way to go but this didn’t stop us dreaming of a school. In several months the building was there and we then neededto paint it and finish all the details which would really cost a lot but we were just near to completing the dream so we would not give up now. The local community was very excited and also helped us a lot and we mobilized them to finish it with us. Last November we proceed with its official inauguration according to the Malagasy culture, the Malagasy fomba during which all the community members, leaders and officials are invited and all kinds of kabary or speeches are given and importantly the tso-drano or the benediction from the community elders. Malagasy people put high value and respect on elders’ benediction for everything they do or happens in their life and not to forget the Omby or the cow with the famous vary be menaka (literally translated Rice with fat from the cow = famous Malagasy dish for ceremony) for all the people to celebrate the school building


  


 The official inauguration of the school was a day to remember because far beyond the school walls, tables and benches, we did not only want to make the dream comes true but also to really give them the opportunity to better thrive because we know the importance of education and how it can unlock opportunities for all. When we come to talk about environmental education it is also linked to health, to education, to human rights… it touches every aspects of the life of the community with whom we are working because at the end of the day the overall goal is that nature and people can thrive together as it is interdependent, we have to make sure we have the balance.

Our pride is that we have been given the opportunity to work with wonderful and amazing partners, locally and internationally, with an amazing local and international team… with people who share the same vision as we, people who are dedicated and engaged in bringing their contribution not only to protect and conserve our environment but also willing to help others to improve in life. The building of the school is not an end in itself; actually it is just a start of a BIG DREAM! We are continuing to dream big with our Lavavolo Lunch Project because even though they have the school, children cannot learn when do not have nothing to eat. Through this project we want to leave our footprint to the benefit of the local community to identify ways for the project’s sustainability and once again because it is all connected. Conservation Fusion is not there to save the planet - we are also limited by means, but we are there to support, to enhance, to strengthen local community leadership skills and abilities so they will be able to take ownership of their natural heritage.

 


Conservation Fusion

March 2016.

 


Comments: 46
Sapphire Andersen - Wed Mar 04, 2015 @ 10:17AM
Comments: 57

How many times have we heard clichéd sayings like “It’s the little things that make life big” or “Enjoy the little things, for one day you will look back and realize that they were big things.” These are phrases that we have all heard throughout the years, but these words do have a ring of truth to them.

Amazon has recently launched the AmazonSmile Foundation. AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same features of Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on Amazon Smile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the price of purchases to charitable organizations of your choice. And for organizations like Conservation Fusion, every little bit of funding counts and that 0.5% can make all the difference.

If you are a frequent online or Amazon shopper and want to get involved and contribute through AmazonSmile, here’s what to do:

  1. Create an AmazonSmile account at https://smile.amazon.com/ch/27-0969718 so all of your shopping on Amazon will benefit Conservation Fusion.
  2. Share AmazonSmile and Conservation Fusion with your friends and family. Whether it’s through social media or simply word of mouth, getting the word out is will only spread the message and contribute in little ways to funding projects in Conservation Fusion.

You shop. Amazon Gives. Conservation Fusion Grows.

Comments: 57
Sapphire Andersen - Wed Feb 18, 2015 @ 09:38AM
Comments: 73

It's January and the winter chill is clinging desperately to the city of Omaha, despite our best efforts to shake the snow and bitter winds. On campus at the University of Nebraska at Omaha this past week, students and faculty were invited to the Barbara Weiss Community Engagement Center to warm up and learn about some endangered animals that live in and love the cold!

From February 9th through the 13th, our Cold Weather Critters: Coloring for Conservation display generated awareness in the campus community about some of our favorite cold weather animals like the Red Panda, Snow Leopard, and Amur Tiger while highlighting Conservation Fusion's partner organizations: Red Panda Network, Snow Leopard Trust, and Wildlife Conservation Society's Russia Tiger Project with the help of Des Moines' Blank Park Zoo. Those who stopped by were encouraged to learn more about all participating organizations and to vote for their favorite coloring contest submissions from area elementary classes. Students, faculty, and community members showed their love for conservation and these cold weather critters... Just in time for Valentine's Day!

Watch the video above to see our Cold Weather Critters display!

Coloring Contest Submisstions

Comments: 73
Sapphire Andersen - Fri Feb 06, 2015 @ 10:59AM
Comments: 98

January 19th found the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) deserted... For the most part, at least. While many students took advantage of the holiday by sleeping in and having a lazy day, several hundred students, staff, and community members flocked to the campus’ Community Engagement Center for a day of community service and volunteering for Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. Day. A day that the UNO Office of Civic and Social Responsibility (hosts of the Signature Service Days) cleverly coined “a day on, not a day off.”

MLK Jr. Signature Service Days welcomed over 300 students and 171 community volunteers, giving everyone a chance to serve over 25 participating organizations. Conservation Fusion was a proud contributor to this year’s Signature Service Days, hosting several service projects inside of UNO’s Community Engagement Center. In preparation for our upcoming Cold Weather Critters: Coloring for Conservation contest later this February, students created informational posters for each featured organization: Snow Leopard Trust, Red Panda Network, and Wildlife Conservation Society’s Tiger Project. Another group contributed by crafting paper snowflakes for our Cold Weather Critters display that will be featured in UNO’s Community Engagement Center. We also had another several student volunteers working on hand-made bracelets that will be gifted to the children of Madagascar.

Our biggest collaborative project, however, was the completion of a community art project for the people of Madagascar. The trunk of a large, quilt-like tree was crafted on a large white sheet out of scraps of brown fabric by three of our student volunteers while a separate volunteer group worked on tracing handprints and cutting them out of colorful fabric. While the trunk of the tree was assembled, we left our handprint “leaves” detached and plan to have community members in Madagascar come together to complete this collaborative art project later on this year.

Alex Bauer, Volunteer Connections Coordinator in UNO’s Office of Civil and Social Responsibility, shared with us that “Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to his cause, so I see no better way to commemorate him than through service to others.” We couldn’t agree more and had the most amazing time contributing to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy through Signature Service Days. It was a day dedicated to connecting with others and committing to service. For us and for the hundreds of volunteers participating, MLK Jr. Day was definitely not just a day off.


Community Art Project

Special thanks to the Office of Civil and Social Responsibility for coordinating the MLK Jr. Day service opportunities. And, of course, to all our great volunteers from UNO and from Metropolitan Community College! 

Comments: 98
Susie McGuire - Wed Mar 28, 2012 @ 01:21PM
Comments: 63

The University of Nebraska's Student-Community Leadership and Service has done it again!  For seven days in a row, students, parents, teachers and children of all ages joined together to complete service projects for others.

During the week, volunteers helped trace and cut pieces tocreate more than 100 chimpanzee puppets for Conservation Fusion educational programs promoting conservation in Senegal, Africa.  Our partner, Dr. Kelly Boyer, will hand deliver the puppets this summer as part of the The Falémé Chimpanzee Conservation Project (FCCP) established in 2010.

Thanks to all who made this week such a great experience!  And a special thanks to Dr. Kathe Oleson-Lyons who orchestrates more than 16 service days throughout the year.  And of course, the amazing Lindsey Scott, student coordinator!

Comments: 63
Susie McGuire - Tue Mar 27, 2012 @ 11:25PM
Comments: 68

On March 18, 2012 students, parents, community partners and even the Mayor gathered at Norris Jr High to engage in an evening of FUN promoting summer activities such as reading, healthy eating, excersize and serving others...that is where the Conservation Fusion piece fit into the puzzle.

Participants created bracelets for children in Madagascar.  WHY?

Because we are all connected.  Many students in other parts of the world do not have the opportunities or education we are so lucky to enjoy in the US.

With less than 10% of Madagascar's original forest remaining, CF works with teachers, schools and community members to educate about the importance of conservation and promote tree planting.

Each child in Madagascar who "digs in" and plants trees will receive a hand-made bracelet created by Omaha youth. 

Comments: 68
Susie McGuire - Fri Apr 29, 2011 @ 12:58PM
Comments: 53

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

The students in the amazing Dr. Lee Kallstom's Engineering and Technology class did it again!  Along with Conservation Fusion, two teams who participated in the prestigious Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Student Mentoring program were awarded First and Second in the overall regional competition. 

The Student Mentoring Program (SMP) is designed to stimulate students' interest and excitement in engineering, architecture, and related sciences.  Each year the Omaha Post’s SMP impacts over 300 students from many local High Schools and Middle Schools. The program relies on sponsors as well as volunteers to mentor the students.

Check out the WINNING project for Team #3...

Project: Filter For Life, a sustainable water purification system

Lack of clean water accounts for 80% of all diseases in poor nations. The island of Madagascar is a developing nation and home to over 20 million people surviving on less than one dollar a day. It is also the habitat of the world’s greatest biodiversity that is currently endangered with only 10% of the original forest left. There is a direct link between poverty and deforestation and at the root of it all is clean water. To address the problem, our team looked into two topics: acquiring and purifying water. We researched the water purification techniques of solar disinfection, chemical disinfection, and sand filtration. Our team determined the most effective and eco-friendly solution for Kianjavato, Madagascar to be a solar-powered BioSand filtration system. Successful health improvement programs require involvement from local communities; therefore, we have added an educational component to our tangible solution.

Check out the WINNING project for Team #4...

Project: Reduction of Deforestation in Third World Countries: Optimizing Sustainable Biofuels

The island of Madagascar harbors wildlife found nowhere else on earth. It is also home to over 20 million people; dependent upon the forest to meet their basic needs, including fuel-wood for cooking. This places tremendous strain on the ecosystem, which has resulted in the destruction of over 90% of the original forest. To address this problem, our project provides a sustainable alternative to forest destruction. The key is “Telo Hevitra”- “Three Thoughts” and introduces a three pronged approach to include rocket stoves, bio-fuel briquettes, and a grinder, all working in combination to improve the lives of the Malagasy people while conserving the environment.

More to come!

It's what the FUSION is all about, empowering KIDS (and young adults) to BE THE CHANGE!

 

 

Comments: 53
Susie McGuire - Fri Mar 25, 2011 @ 09:15PM
Comments: 59

THANKS UNO!  The University of Nebraska's Service Learning Academy hosted a week-long event during spring break for students to volunteer.  The Seven Days of Service was amazing!   Thanks for inviting us to participate.  The group of students and mentors helping was above and beyond.
With their help, we:

-Created over 750 bracelets for Malagasy children participating in the reforestation efforts.  Each was assembled with a tag that reads "One for you. One for me.  Let's work together to plant a tree!"  and was printed one side English and the other Malagasy.
-Painted 130 paper plate "tortoise shells" and cut 400 tortoise body parts to be made into tambourines by Malagasy children to celebrate their biodiversity.
-Colored and assembled 84 buttons with conservation messages for youth in Madagascar.
-Cut out 1,000 lemur faces to make paper sack puppets, along with 1,080 lemur ears for the art project.
-Traced over 300 hands, cut and glued them to tongue depressors with their names on them.  Primary school children in Madagascar will write 5 things the forest gives them in the fingers of their new friends from the US as we learn about the importance of the forest and ways we are all connected.
I would like to mention, this was a great experience.  Most of the students helping were refugees from Korea.  They worked so hard to accomplish as much as they could to give something to someone who does not have everything.  They understood that and mentioned several times how excited the Malagasy children would be to receive a bracelet or participate in the art projects because they would have loved it in the refugee camp.
On the last day as we were working hard...cutting, glueing, counting...the students were all syncronizing their i-pods and listening/singing "We are the World" !!!  Over and over!!!  I just don't think a day of service gets better than that.

Comments: 59