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Teaching Indonesian youth about sustainable practices through eco-literacy

Petr Hindrich, Founder, and Directing Manager of green-books.org shares with us his thoughts, ideas and perspective on raising awareness about nature and sustainable practices in communities using children’s education and books as a starting point through an interview conducted by Stacy Hammond - the YPARD Europe Communications and Fundraising officer. Together with a couple of like-minded friends, he established this non-profit organization “green-books.org” with the aim of promoting eco-literacy which is the ability to understand natural systems that make life on earth possible, through his organization he promotes knowledge through 3 programs: Eco-Libraries, Eco-Activities, and Eco-Communities.

Petr was Born in Prostějov in former Czechoslovakia. He holds an MBA and MA in Far East studies and is running Eco-Lodge homestay and permaculture garden in Bali, Indonesia.

Enjoy the interview below:

Stacy: Can you give a brief description of the project, its aims, mission, and vision?

Petr: Indonesia’s unique nature is in conflict with the world’s hunger for resources and domestic economy driven by a growing population of 250 million. Including 85 million children that are lacking environmental education. We at green-books.org raise awareness about nature and sustainable practices in communities across Indonesia using children’s education and books as a starting point.

Stacy: How did the idea come about?

Petr: The first Eco-Library developed spontaneously in 2013 during my surf trip to a remote Indonesian island of Sumba. Suddenly my motorbike broke down in a distant village and it took over a week to get it repaired. During this stay with the local community, I realized that environmental problems have roots in the children’s education. I learned that most of the children were growing up without access to books and knowledge about nature. And as a consequence, they feared the local and unknown wildlife and didn't understand the concept of sustainability. Therefore, I wanted to leave some knowledge behind and decided to give a couple of books about plants and animals to the children. Sadly, there wasn’t any bookstore on the whole island carrying books for children.

In preparation for my next trip to Sumba, I went looking for the best children’s nature books I could find in the capital city, Jakarta. I filled my backpack and brought back more than 50 books.

Motivated by the very positive reaction of the children and community, I started to bring books to other locations around the archipelago and discovered the educational model of ‘eco-literacy’ and developed a way to promote environmental education to more communities across Indonesia. Together with a couple of like-minded friends, I established a non-profit organization called green-books.org in January 2014.

Stacy: What are the eco-libraries? How do they work?

Petr: It’s  a place where we intend to awaken children's curiosity about nature, helping them to overcome their fear of the unknown and develop empathy towards the environment, thereby stimulating them to protect it now and in the future. We source fun-to-read and up-to-date books in Indonesian language, on topics such as fauna, flora, ecosystems, and environment and we distribute such books to the Eco-Libraries. Moreover we are developing and introducing Eco-Activities and games to the Eco-Libraries, for example: creative activities (drawing/painting, craft making, poetry, songwriting, etc.), actions (cleanups, tree planting, cooking, etc.), projects (composting, veggie garden, upcycling), eco-movie watching & discussion and field trips. So far we have initiated 65 Eco-Libraries all across Indonesia.

Stacy: What are the benefits of the project?

Petr: Inspiring and enabling children to lead sustainable lifestyles.

Stacy: How can people get involved/ donate?

Petr: They can volunteer, fundraise, become our ambassadors or become `Eco-Travelers by visiting our Eco-Libraries (more info at  https://www.green-books.org/get-involved/). And of course, they can support us financially at https://www.green-books.org/donate/

Stacy: Where do you see the project going? what are the expected outcomes?

Petr: We aim to make Indonesian children understand natural systems that make life on earth possible and inspire them to live more sustainably.

In long term we are envisioning thousands of Eco-Libraries to be created all around the World, empowering every single child to be eco-literate.

Picture credits: green-books.org