First of its kind – NUSMS Nature Appreciation

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Guardians 2016, a Nature Appreciation event, is a new initiative introduced by NUSMS this year. Through a nature retreat that was held after final exams, participants were able to relieve their stress and take one step closer to fulfilling their role as Khalifah Fil Ardh (Vicegerent in the Earth). Ultimately, Guardians’ nature retreat aims to promote appreciation and inspire action towards protecting, cherishing and holding responsibility of Allah’s Earth.

The Activities

Nature Trail

Our retreat kicked off with a nature trail at Al-Amin Mosque, which had several checkpoints such as Faber Point and Henderson Waves. During the trail, participants took part in an array of sub-activities which included picking up litter, playing Bingo and a silent eating component. Apart from that, facilitators would introduce to them various species of plants and animals found during the trail. Although it was drizzling, the wet weather did not dampen the spirit and mood of the participants to gain new knowledge. The cooling atmosphere in the forest was also a respite from the heat of the city. Through this trail, participants were able to develop a greater sense of appreciation for the natural environment around them and remind themselves to slow down once in a while to take in the sights and sounds of nature.

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FITree Circle

Following the nature trail was a night activity called “FITreeCircle”. The Guardians committee collaborated with FITree, a Muslim environmental group, for this activity. The topic for that night’s FITreeCircle was ‘Repugnance of Wastage in Islam’. Snippets of a documentary titled ‘Trashed’ was shown to our participants, and our invited speakers – Ustaz Syahrin and Sis Farah – shared their knowledge in relation to the chosen topic. Ustaz Syahrin spoke about wastage and its links to Islam, while Sis Farah shared her experiences working for Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) and introduced one of their initiatives, the Repair Kopitiam, an upcycling movement. The circle wrapped up with a fruitful discussion amongst the participants about what was learnt from the two speakers and also of new ideas they had for the environment.

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Morning Hike

The second day of our retreat started bright and early with a short hike up to Henderson Waves after the subuh prayers. All of us had one goal in mind… to catch the sunrise! Alhamdulillah, the participants and the Guardians committee were able to catch the sunrise and witness one of Allah’s beautiful creations together. Through the morning hike, all of us managed to embrace the blessings in the early hours of the day, for it is a time that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made dua for, in which he said: “O Allah, bless my Ummah in its early hours.”

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Kayaking/ Cycling Activity with Waterways Watch Society (WWS)

For the final activity of our retreat, WWS conducted a litter picking programme at Kallang Riverside Park. Participants chose to either kayak or cycle with the aim of collecting as much litter as they can while enjoying the scenic city skyline. Within a short span of 30 minutes, those on kayaks managed to collect around 30 kg of litter. The litter picked up both on water and on land included plastic bottles, empty cans, sepak takraw balls, parts of a fan and even soiled diapers. From the short litter picking session, we could observe that a vast amount of litter is collected just within a day. In fact, we learnt that about 10,000 kg of litter is collected from the waters of Singapore each day. At the end of the activity, we realised how even a small piece of litter can have large, unintended consequences such as causing harm to the marine animals. Thus, this activity helped to instil a greater sense of responsibility towards caring for our environment.

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Through the activities conducted, the Guardians committee hoped that the participants were able to gain a deeper appreciation for nature and our environment. The committee also hoped that it will encourage them to take steps to becoming a more responsible Khalifah Fil Ard.

For more information and photos, visit our Instagram page: @nusms_guardians or our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NUSMSguardians.

Wassalam,

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Guardians Committee 2016