It has been an exciting time of learning at the Heritage Garden and Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, as well as the Centre for Education and Environment (Nature Seychelles headquarters) in the past months, with Lucina and other staff receiving visits from nature enthusiasts ranging from the very young to the retired.
Children and teachers from the Bel Ombre school early childhood class visited at the end of July as part of learning activities. Earlier in the month, a group of retired persons, 'Twrazyenm az' spent their morning at the Heritage Garden, exchanging knowledge about plants and herbs at the garden with Lucina.
Lucina is Nature Seychelles' horticulturalist and has the honour of taking visitors around.
The first stop for children and their teachers is usually the centre itself. Here, colourful murals of the fauna and flora of Seychelles painted by Seychellois artist Philip Mousbe, and displays of the organization's work, are a centre of attraction. Children are delighted to learn about and identify animals and plants on the murals. They often astonish staff at the centre with their knowledge of birds and marine life. Adults and other visitors engage staff about projects and wildlife through displays at the centre.
"I like spending time with children especially, because they are so hungry for knowledge and they enjoy being outdoors and finding out new things." Lucina says.
The Heritage Garden at Roche Caiman - set up as a demonstration garden that promotes the propagation and use of traditional food and medicinal plants - has attracted eager students, tourists, locals and leaders. In the garden, children and visitors are shown medicinal plants and herbs, indigenous and native trees, and traditional foods. They crush and smell exotic herbs. They ask questions about what they see. Those who come across familiar plants exchange ideas and information about how to use different plants. Tourists taste tropical fruits for the first time. The brave take home the Noni fruit, famed for its benefits, for juice.
Lucina acknowledges the benefits of these visits: "They get very interesting. I learn some things I did not know, especially about medicinal plants, from older local people, and I get new ideas for additions to the garden."
Both the Garden and Sanctuary at Roche Caiman have been used as teaching sites for many years. Young people have learnt about wetlands at the Sanctuary - a three hectare wetland, nestled between Stad Linite and the Roche Caiman housing estate, environmental management and the importance of conservation. They have volunteered to help in maintaining the site, and participated in activities that include keeping the invasive Typha javanica (Zon) reed at bay, raking and cleaning. Other visitors come to watch birds at the bird hide, which has on occasion been home to injured and rescued birds.