New project to give socio-economic options to vulnerable groups


12-March-2012

Signing the MoU: (from l to r) Mr Moumou, Dr Shah and Mr Volcy

The project, called ‘Greening Livelihoods : Using the environment to provide new socio-economic options for vulnerable groups in Seychelles’, is funded by the European Union (EU).

It aims to tackle one of Seychelles’ biggest current challenges -- the rehabilitation of these vulnerable groups by using one of our best assets, the natural environment.

The launch of the project at Nature Seychelles’ headquarters at Roche Caiman involved the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Drug and Alcohol Council (Dac) and the Mont Royal Centre, which will be partnering with the organisation to assist in project activities.

Nature Seychelles’ chief executive, Dr Nirmal Shah, said he was impressed that since his inauguration speech last year, President James Michel had indicated he was preoccupied with the drug problem in Seychelles, linking the issue with other kinds of anti-social behaviour.

Dr Shah said he was impressed by the President’s determination to find solutions.
 
He said he decided that this was a great challenge, but was willing to take it up.

“Why not  bring nature to people who are reduced in stature because of drug or alcohol addiction,” he said, noting that research in the UK and Australia has shown that access to nature creates a therapeutic effect on persons that are vulnerable, facilitating their rehabilitation.

Referred to as a “conservation therapy”, this is the first time a project like this has been undertaken in Seychelles.
“We are very excited about launching this new initiative and believe it will make a meaningful contribution towards the current climate of social renaissance launched by President Michel last year,” said Dr Shah.

The MoU was signed by Dr Shah, Danny Volcy for Dac and Robert Moumou for the Mont Royal Centre.
Martin Varley, coordinator of stakeholders at Nature Seychelles, said that besides drug and alcohol addicts, vulnerable groups also include school children, single mothers and prisoners.

He said exposure to nature helps build self-esteem; offer team working; provides personal development; teaches and develops social skills and promotes healthy lifestyles.

The main activities will include outdoor exercise, practical horticulture and gardening, visitor guiding and conservation management.

Participants will also receive assistance to boost their willpower, well-being,
Mr Varley said the programme will run for 18 months and will hopefully involve to 250 youths at risk as well as 200 parents and guardians.
 
Similar programmes run in the UK, Australia and the USA have shown there is a 60% re-integration rate among participants, which is significant, said Mr Varley.

Many of the outdoor activities in the programme will be run at the Nature Seychelles Roche Caiman reserve, which has seven acres of wetland, habitat of over a dozen local and migrating birds, a garden of medicinal plants and various exotic fruit trees and other flora, well managed by Robin Hanson.

Now it will be his task to promote the Green Health Programme.

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