Children and Youth Empowerment
The program aims to create intergenerational learning and eco advocate children and youth who are rooted in their sustainable cultural practices but contribute positively to their environment.
SEGNI in Oromiffa, languages means “seed”. Seed, for the agrarian rural community is a traditionally well-respected thing as it signifies continuity of generation. The acronym SEGNI, on the other hand is a program designed by MELCA to revitalize the transfer of traditional ecological knowledge and culture to the youth in schools.
The overall objective of MELCA’s SEGNI program is to create a means for linking the youth in schools with culture, nature and self by way of intergenerational learning with the intention of creating, in the youth, a sense of responsibility for the conservation of their cultural and ecological resources.
To this effect, the program is designed in such a way that the youth, selected from schools around project sites, would, together with selected elders, be taken to wilderness “on trail”. They would stay in the forest for a period of five days, to experience nature and culture as well as related environment and natural resource conservation mechanisms from elders to connect with themselves. During the course of the program, participants will also be involved in a process called “ discovering your cultural biodiversity”. The daytime is assigned for exploring their biodiversity and the nighttime is for culture. These explorations are undertaken through processes known as trekking and tracking for exploration of biodiversity during the day and story telling and night watch for exploration of culture during the night. Trekking is a movement through the forest to learn about the flora and fauna while tracking is a time for evaluating the learning process. During the night elders tell traditional stories to the children and then after they go out for a night watch to have time to look in to oneself and the connection between self and nature.
It is believed that this process would create an environment whereby the youth learn from their communities (elders) about their traditional biocultural knowledge and practices. In order to keep the experiences so gained sustainable, students would form SEGNI clubs in their respective schools. In these clubs, members create means and ways of disseminating the experiences they learned to the wider community in and out of school. They would also become activists for the conservation of their bio-cultural resources and be involved in advocacy activities for environmental protection.
Members of SEGNI clubs undertake such roles of stewardship and become an “eco-advocates” advocacy by way of exploring their cultural heritages and collecting various traditional artifacts as well as traditional seeds and keeping them in a traditional learning center they construct. They also organize and celebrate special celebration days such as biocultural diversity day, elders’ day, on which they present variety shows about and biocultural diversity to the wider community.
As part of their commitment toward environmental protection and rehabilitation SEGNI club members would also be involved in nursery site development and planting of indigenous trees.