The Green Desert Project

 Reflections of Youth Volunteers

on the Green Desert Project …

We have heard about the ecological crisis, how the earth is dying. I think we cannot understand what it means till we have taken a visit like this to see the sandy grassland for ourselves. We need to do something to save the earth! On the trip, I am reminded of how easy it is to destroy the environment but how hard it is to restore (the earth). I think that the folks who work hard at saving the earth are truly the unsung heroes. The most valuable experience for me is to have come and met the local people and touched a few lives in a simple but personal way. As much as I can, I’ll try to save the earth by doing the little things. At the same time, I‘ll be a good mentor to the young to help them grow up as responsible kids.

Faith Cheong Hui Min

The trip has helped me see life beyond Singapore. Going back to nature has helped me understand a little more about God’s creation, what it means to return to the Garden of Eden. What have we done to abuse God’s beautiful creation?! I‘ve drawn closer to God when I was on the grasslands and even now when I am back in the city, back to school.

Isaac Koh

We can do a million other things besides giving money. (Let’s get into) “Action!”

Siti Farhana Roslee

We went there with a mission to plant trees to reduce sandstorms plaguing the villages…We did just that, planting 1,050 trees with great care.

Joanne Tan Li Ling

Two weeks in China have broadened my perspective. Now I know many people live in worse conditions and how much I have taken things for granted.

Lim Wen Zhen

Rather than reading about desertification and sandstorms online, to experience first-hand the desertified conditions was more than valuable than words can describe. From the visits to “Dabao” and the stories shared by Mr Lawrence, I learnt how the sandstorms and desertification had affected the lives of the farmers on the grassland. It also helped me to see how the local community had put in efforts to green the desert and how the forestry department had worked hard to protect this vast land of greenery. When we were travelling around Duolun, I also noticed the cracks on the ground due to drought. I learnt to be grateful for the environment we have in Singapore. It was a great privilege for me to go to Inner Mongolia, to get away from the fast pace of life in Singapore, to learn to relax and enjoy the slower pace of life in Duolun. It was the first time I saw the vast grassland, where the earth meets the sky. This trip was definitely an eye-opener for me and it really helped me expand my horizons.

Tan Shi Hui

This Green Desert YEP experience has helped me see how poor people try to make ends meet and taught me to appreciate the simplicity of life.

Farhana Tukijan

When you plant a tree, never plant only one.

Plant Three – one for shade, one for fruit, one for beauty.

African Proverb

This Green Desert YEP experience has further strengthened my personal conviction of “living for others” as I strongly believe that helping others is very important regardless of how small the effort may be.

Ernest Tan Zee Leng

Having come here and met the farmers and seen how tough it is to grow crops, I am determined not to waste food from now on. I have learnt to appreciate the simple things in life… the flowers and the insects, and nature all around us.

Colleen Teo

The host community has taught me the methods of digging and planting fir trees. Mr Yan (Duolun’s forestry manager) taught me the meaning of gratitude. Whenever he came around to help me with the digging of the holes, I would thank him. But he’d say: “Don’t thank me, I should be thanking you instead for coming to help us plant trees.”

Tan Yi Li

In the Green Desert Project, as group after group comes every year to Duolun, Inner Mongolia, each small effort in the field translates to a larger growing awareness of the desertification challenge and environmental issues within China and without.
As first-timers in a new environment in Inner Mongolia and doing manual work like digging and planting, and working together with team-mates of different personalities, I found it very challenging. We also faced interruptions by unusually wet weather (for Inner Mongolia), and experienced tension due to some miscommunication within the team. Yet we achieved our initial goal of planting 1,111 trees and surpassed it with a new record of planting 1,133 trees. As a service learning project, we do not just get the manual work of planting done. We learnt from the Green Desert cause and will carry on to spread the message of environmental activism when we go back home. And as foreigners in another country, I am glad we have helped foster ties between two nations as we offered our helping hand.

Yeo Jia Xiong

The trip has made me more adventurous to try new things and be more adaptable… like going to the toilet in the bushes and eating simple food. I‘ve learnt to appreciate what I have, such as a nice bed at our home back in Singapore. I hope to continue being an environmental volunteer.

Lee Yu Bin

For this trip specifically, I got to see a desert which has been transformed into a sea of green. This is really inspiring and I learnt that anything can be achieved if we set our hearts to do it. I observed that people in the cities, whether in Singapore or in the advanced cities of China, tend to be more self-centred, caring for their own interests. However, these problems are not so obvious in the less developed areas. Does it mean that we have sacrificed our humanity for the sake of advancement in technology? We saved more time with technology, but somehow we have less time for ourselves, our family and the people around us.

Liu Zhe Hao

The facilitation sessions during the trip helped me in better understanding the cultural and historical background of the place. The facilitation sessions also helped me appreciate the key learning points of this project.

Zhang Qi Rui

I am more conscious of environmental efforts and would like to be more involved. It is very different from the usual community service I do.

Tan Min Hui

The Green Desert Project is by far the most transformational experience I have had. I got to experience different cultures in Inner Mongolia.

Choy Jian Wei

This Green Desert YEP is by far the most transformative experience I have had as it has helped me to be more independent and confident.

Chew Lay Peng

This Green Desert YEP has made me realise that there are others out there who need more help than us and that we need to be grateful for what we have.

Satishvaran Vijhayan

It has definitely impacted me positively, and I will change some aspects of my life and habits based on the lessons I have learnt on this trip.

Wong Kai Sheng

Travelling to such a far away country, leaving my comfort zone, has taught me not only to be independent but also to be appreciative of what I have. This YEP is definitely something one could never experience in Singapore.

Ruby Hwang Chuen-Hong

I have learnt to appreciate nature more… and how planting a tree can save a lot more trees from being destroyed… I love Nature!

Yee Jia Ying

I am an ambassador for the Green Desert Project and I will definitely pass on my knowledge to others.

Glenda Poon