PEN Sierra Leone, a literary club, in collaboration with the United States (US) Embassy in Freetown, over the weekend celebrated the 37th anniversary of Earth Day with writing and Art competition at the embassy’s multi-purpose room.
Speaking at the ceremony Ambassador Thomas Hull of the US Embassy said that Earth Day had no central organizing force behind it “though several nongovernmental organisations work to keep track of the thousands of local events in schools and parks that mark the day.”
He said the celebrations were to raise environmental awareness with a view to attracting consciousness and protecting the environment.
Ambassador Hull said the objective of Earth Day was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment that would influence political decisions.
The US ambassador said that Sierra Leone does not celebrate Earth Day but rather World Environmental Day.
He said PEN Sierra Leone center had worked with the Public Affairs Section through the selection process and came up with 20 winners.
Urging the competing pupils, Ambassador Hull said they would all have a treat at the Tacugama Sanctuary at Regent for a whole day as well as receive many fabulous prizes.
He advised the 10 winners that there was never a big prize for literary work, adding, “But I hope that today you winners would go home with the feeling of having made not only a very important contribution to the anniversary but to the universe as a whole.”
In his keynote address, the Forestry Commissioner, Dr Chris Squire said the competition raised three important things namely awareness, education and communication among the youth.
He said wild life in Sierra Leone risked being endangered as hunters are always in search of animals for money or food.
He said as an increase in population had meant that the mature land was hard to find. He said people were farming on land that “that have been farmed on five or more years back [which] is as a result of the increase in population and there are lots of mouths to feed.”
Dr Squire started that there had to be protection for the streams as they produce the water that we drink. “People of this country are going to drop dead one day because of thirst as there has been indiscriminate burning of the forest. This is crime committed by every Sierra Leonean including the government I am not pointing fingers but I want us to look ahead.”
The grand winner of the competition, 14-year-old pupil of Albert Academy Secondary School, Joseph Jass Kamara, illustrated how a farmer in trying to catch just an elephant ended up killing several other animals.