“I saw a group working positively, away from religion and politics, so I loved to participate,” says Um Omar, an alias, she chose for security reasons, speaking about the “Children of the Oaks”, which entered its second year, after it started planting trees and resisting logging.
Um Omar believes that the initiatives which included different age groups, including elderly people, actually plant positivity in the people conducting them, especially that her child is participating in some of the activities and that it can be generalized as to answer all the wrongful things going own, following the principle of “answering abuse with a smile”.
In As-Suwayda, activists are countering logging and planting new trees since 2017, allocating an annual holiday to celebrate on the 20Th of December, under the title of the “Children of the Oaks, which includes all the people who love the Syrian ground, with all that is above its surface, including people, stones and trees; those who left ideologies, currents, categories, parties, religions, crafts, and social labels behind them, to unite with the love of the land”.
The fifty years old Um Jawad said that, at a certain point, she started to feel impotent, when the Syrian action took a turn to violence and the rejection of any phenomenon affiliated to a certain side started to prevail. She added that, “amidst loss and inaction, in the Children of Oaks, I found a means to be socially active, away from taking sides.”
How Did the Initiative Start?
With the random logging that started a few years ago, due to economic deterioration, citizens have started to take action to counter the situation and asked governmental establishments to protect the green cover. However, they failed, in the shadow of the increasing logging operations that became a trade.
After this, the initiative was launched as to conduct organized, studied and purposeful afforestation, through repetitive campaigns, in which elderly, youngsters, adolescents and children have participated.
The initiative cooperated with the Agriculture and Forest Service Directorate in As-Suwayda, “because it already has plans and can look after the trees, to be planted, as to guarantee their survival.” The Directorate has given them copies of its annual plans, the planters and a map of the governorate’s areas.
About 50 to 200 people participated in the current planting season, which targeted Sad al-Ayin; where they planted planters at their own expense.
The increase in the number of the participants developed the initiative’s ideas; the people participated in cleaning the roads also. The initiative contributed to cleaning the Qanawat tourist road and the Damascus- As-Suwayda roads, in a process that continued for eight successive weeks, last year.
The cleaning operation inside the city is yet going on, in addition to painting the median strips which the initiative is implementing in cooperation with the Municipality’s Council, to direct its efforts to cleaning the archaeological cites in the governorate, in the upcoming period.