Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Um by Chuck Baclagon


After walking 3 days under the scorching sun for the Chang(e) Caravan, I am welcoming the thunder storm that is raging while we seek shelter under the roof of a Buddhist temple at Nakhonratchasima Province in Thailand.

For 15 days, I am part of a team led by Greenpeace that is traveling 250 kilometers through Thailand with 5 majestic Asian elephants from Khao Yai National Park, a world heritage site, to Bangkok, in time for the preparation meeting of the United Nations climate change summit that begins in the end of the month.

Along the route of the Chang(e) Caravan, the team and I visit schools and communities to share stories on how climate change threatens people and the environment.  We are also raising a challenge to US President Obama and other world leaders to follow the examples of simple citizens from Southeast Asia who decided to be part of the solution to climate change.

One of these inspiring individuals is Um, a fourth year student of Silapakorn University in Petchaburi.
Like everybody in the Chang(e) Caravan, Um has a task at hand to make sure that things runs smoothly. As part of the team that provide the needs of the elephants, she cleans up after the stars of the show — this means she’s responsible for shoveling elephant dung to the side of the road!

According to Dr. Alongkot Chukeaw from the Thai Elephant Research and Conservation Fund, Um is taking on an important task as it maintains cleanliness while enriching the soil, as these pachyderms eat at least 2,000 kinds of vegetation.

This task is also back breaking especially when the 5 elephants decide to relieve themselves at the same time.  But Um is taking on her role with dedication!  Her enthusiasm for the Chang(e) Caravan is still the same as when I first met her a day before the launch while we cleaned the tank that now holds the water used to spray the elephants with when their body gets to warm while walking under the sun.

As a youth, Um has managed to juggle her passion for environmental activism and studies.  She’s an active volunteer of Greenpeace – Solar Generation and is currently the top student of her university major which is Community Development.

Like Um, US President Obama is also at the top of his class. And with this power comes great responsibilities.  As a world leader, he can break the deadlock on climate action and deliver on the “change” he promised.

The time is ticking Mr. President – the world needs you to take leadership on climate action by personally attending the United Nations Climate Summit in Copenhagen this December and force decisions that will “change” the shape of humanity’s future.

Abi Jabines

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[…] I don’t mean what Um has to clean up, but the process of transporting elephants across provincial borders. An operation as complicated […]

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