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SS3/98, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Sembang Sains @ Ma Daerah Terengganu

Silent tranquility, untouched purity and unrivalled beauty. Those were my first impression of Ma Daerah Turtle Sanctuary upon our arrival there. We had to follow a long and winding trek along 1.3 km of rough terrain, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature in all its splendor before being greeted with the place we would call home for the next 3 days. A brief stop for registration yielded us a bottle of mineral water each to be used throughout our stay as the only source of water in Ma Daerah are refill stations situated around the compound. After being assigned to our designated tents, we proceeded to unpack and unwind after a very long bus ride that left us aching and quite fatigued. We worked ceaselessly for the better half of the night in order to finish our school'™s exhibition board and presentation in time for the next day’s program. We were driven by the sole incentive of watching turtles lay eggs on the beach. But, alas we were so caught up in finishing our work that by the time we were done, the mother turtle had already left! However, as a small consolation, we managed to let loose a baby turtle each. We were all mesmerized and amazed at the sheer agility of the baby turtles as they scurried towards the dark, deep ocean.

The next morning, we awoke to the magnificent and awe-inspiring sunrise as we jogged around the beach with the glorious sun in the distance. It was undoubtedly one the most picturesque scenes we had ever behold. Reluctantly, we were forced to turn our backs on the beach to continue with the day’s activities. The Sembang Sains session was conducted with speakers from various government agencies and non-governmental organizations. They each spoke on current issues surrounding the natural world.

In all honesty, I thought that the food given on camps and field trips range from poor to mediocre. Fortunately, I was wrong. The food was actually pretty good and there’s nothing better than sitting together with friends enjoying a delicious meal after a long day of strenuous activities. After lunchtime, it was time for the presentations! Each school is required to present for 10 minutes on why they deserve to be in the competition. The participants explained the measures implemented thus far by their respective schools and future plans underway to be “greener” schools and to reduce our carbon footprint. Frankly, our jaws dropped at the amount of effort and dedication that the other schools had put in their presentations, be it with singing or acting, in order to pull off such phenomenal performances. When it was our turn to present, we were definitely intimidated by the presentations by the other schools. Thankfully we did rather well considering we were burning the midnight oil just the previous night to get the presentation right. I, personally, have realized that the war has only begun and that the other schools are really in it to win the competition.

The last night of our trip was the most eventful. It started off with some light and easy games such as a “treasure hunt” where we were tasked to find answers to questions in the exhibition boards from other schools and a competition of making a piece of art from recycled objects. In the latter aspect, the teams with an artistic flair excelled the most. Our hopes were high that another round of turtle watching, which was next on the agenda, would finally give us a chance to see a mother turtle land on the beach. We lied ourselves down on the cold, soft sand and stared above at the starry night, littered with millions of stars, while the sea breeze whistled past and the moon shone at a distance. At that point, each of us were engulfed in our own thoughts.

As for me, I reflected on how God had created a beautiful, majestic and perfect world. I also thought of how much this trip has taught me on the importance of team work and the spirit of togetherness towards a common objective. That is the reason why the Earth is where it is now; polluted and on the brink of destruction as the inhabitants of Earth do not stand together and are not united to fight the forces that consume our very existence. The forces of greed and the undying love for money has cost us what should be held most dear to us, but sadly is cast aside, namely the protection and preservation of our planet. Oh, how I pity the turtles whose numbers have deteriorated dramatically over the past 10 years and are now a dying breed. And this is all because of our actions. As I lay silent on the beach that final night of our trip, I realised that the Earth is reaching its breaking point of damnation. There is an urgent need for you and I to change the way we think and act in order to save our most treasured possession, Earth, our home.

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