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BNM:  Connecting Palauan youth with their plants and culture

BNM:  Connecting Palauan youth with their plants and culture

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by December 2, 2016 Billboard

Project Funded by: Government of India

Ten girls and six boys from Koror Elementary School, grades 6th through 8th participated in a pilot project established by the Belau National Museum in connection with their newly opened “Cycle of Life” exhibition. There were five demonstration projects from each of the 5 Cycle of Life themes. The five themes include Cheroll (Childbirth) and Omesurch, Omengat, and Mo-Tuobed (Herbal Hot Bath Processes and Ceremony); Mesei (Taro Patch); Omenged (Fishing); Bai (Chief’s Traditional Meeting House); and Kemeldiil (Funeral). [restrict]

The projects for each theme included girls learning how to prepare and make reng el chilt (coconut oil & ginger mixture); weave baskets used for carrying kukau (taro); prepare raw taro before wrapping in meolt (young coconut leaves) for cooking; and prepare raw tapioca to be wrapped in young coconut leaves and ti leaves for cooking. Boys learned how to make a traditional spear all out of local plant material; carve their own thatching needles and prepared several thatched roof pieces from bamboo and touechel (Nypa palm leaves); and learned how to prepare and wrap raw fish in young coconut leaves. All participants also learned how to identify and properly use 5 types of medicinal plants used in stopping minor cuts, curing diarrhea, and relieving itchiness.

This program began on November 14 and finished on November 23, 2016. It was an hour and a half after school program held from 3pm to 4:30pm at the pottery building of the Belau National Museum. On the final day of the program, there was a little ceremony to thank the students, parents, and school for allowing them to participate in this project. There was a presentation of Certificates to each participant. In addition, the girls were presented a small vial of the coconut oil and ginger mixture they had made along with their woven baskets, taro, billum (grated, wrapped, and cooked tapioca), some wrapped fish from the boys, and a young ginger plant to bring home to grow. The boys got to keep their own spears, the thatching needles they had made, some of their wrapped fish, some taro and billum from the girls, and a young betel nut plant to bring home. A program t-shirt will be given to the participants along with the exhibit brochures once they are printed.

We thank the teachers who contributed their time and knowledge to teaching our kids these valuable skills (Albert Naito Soaladaob, Bruce Ngirkuteling, and Juliana Shiro), the Belau National Museum Director and staff that contributed to this program, the Vice Principal of Koror Elementary School for making arrangements for the participants, the willing participants that wanted to learn, the office of the President, and the India-Aid Grant Fund from the Government of India for funding this youth project. [/restrict]

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