The aim of the audiobook was not only to provide a useable resource for children and young people stuck at home, but also to give young civil-society activists a concrete project. Many have been unable to pursue their livelihoods and passions during the pandemic, and volunteering to record passages for the book was a way to maintain a routine and sense of purpose.
A huge effect of the pandemic rests on how the education system must be modified for it to continue educating the young ones without sacrificing their health in physical set-ups. This audiobook project is a concrete response to that dilemma. More than 20 people signed up. FES spoke to three of them to find out what the experience meant for them.
FES Philippines: Why did you decide to volunteer as audio narrator for the audiobook? Have you tried volunteering as audio narrator before? Did you find the cause worthwhile?
Amanda Gomez, student activist: I decided to volunteer for the audiobook because I have a soft spot for children and reading is one of my favourite hobbies. So, I figured that volunteering for the children's audiobook was the perfect union for the two. This is my first-time volunteering as an audio narrator and I definitely found the cause worthwhile.
Darl Centina, FES Philippines’ REBOOT programme alumni: Either through writing or speaking, I've always loved communicating with people - especially kids. Their pure and hopeful outlook in life always inspires me to do better for the planet they will inherit. They deserve to have a better world.
When I saw the opportunity that FES presented, I got excited because it was one of my dreams. I would finally be able to use my skill for my advocacy - education for a sustainable future. It was my first time and I really enjoyed doing it.
Rodelon Ramos, young architect and environmental planner: I took the opportunity to become an audio narrator for this project because, as an advocate for renewable energy and sustainability, I wanted to spread the word and increase awareness about these campaigns to a larger number of people, and specifically to a younger audience. It was my first-time volunteering as an audio narrator. I think you need to have a certain level of enthusiasm and sustained interest in the subject matter to become an effective audio narrator. The cause is very much worthwhile. And the format does away with traditional forms of learning contained in the confines of the classroom, and endeavoured to explore other avenues (e-book, podcast, online streaming) where the message of climate change is addressed.
Did the pandemic change your view of education for children and youth? Do you think this advocacy on children and climate rights provided you with a sense of fulfilment to help in this pandemic?
DC: Yes, for both questions. The pandemic has highlighted the drastic inequality present in children's education. Technology, as an enabler of learning, must be made available for all.
AG: The pandemic made me rethink the traditional way of face-to-face learning in schools. I realized that children are also able to learn new things while they are home, given the right materials. Volunteering for this project was one of the things I was able to accomplish even if I was stuck quarantined at home, which helped keep me busy and in turn, helped the state of my own mental health.
While you are reading the book, and your part of the recording, what feelings did you have? Did you feel a sense of urgency or relevance?
AG: The book effectively tackled one of the most pressing issues society has right now - climate change. I was impressed with how age-appropriate the content was, while also not watering down the urgency of the problem. My part was about what we can do as individuals to help alleviate the effects of the climate crisis. Doing so made me realize that it is better for children to start participating in environmental conservation practices at an early age, and the book can serve as their guide.
RR: While narrating the book and going through the assigned parts, I felt exhilarated and teeming with hope. I felt both a sense of urgency and relevance in this endeavour, as I believe the implemented initiatives are going to send positive ripples through the communities where they are situated, more people are going to arrive new realizations and reflect at their old ways of life.
How do you think can this project help children and young people while we are struggling with the pandemic? Do you think this is part of the new normal?
AG: Since the audio recordings were uploaded on Spotify and Soundcloud, it makes it more accessible for parents and young people alike, who want the younger generation to be aware of climate change. At the same time, the audiobook being up during the pandemic while most of us are confined in our home is useful in keeping the minds preoccupied while also learning.
RR: It is high time that climate change becomes central to our educational curricula and day-to-day discourse, and now is the best and most appropriate time to engage children and young people in issues concerning our environment - how fragile and precarious it is, and how it involves and affects just about everyone. Children and young people who are transitioning to online modes of learning can benefit from this project by becoming informed about the current challenges of our lifetime, the critical situation of our climate, and the indication of things to come.
FES Philippines launched the audiobook on June 25 in time to celebrate the Philippine’s National Environment Month.
More than its impact on young audiences, the audiobook has grounded the volunteers’ advocate self hopefully enabling them to persevere in the work they do amidst the challenges of the pandemic.
Amanda Gomez is a member of Eco socialist Working Group within Akbayan Youth, a democratic socialist and feminist political organization.
Darl Centina is an alumna of REBOOT, a programme of FES Philippines that caters to young people who are advocates of climate, renewable energy, and sustainability furthering their technical, social, political capacities on these aspects.
Rodelon Ramos is another alumnus of REBOOT. He also an architect, environmental planner, and a development practitioner.
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