National Tree Day is Australia’s largest annual tree planting event. The initiative began in 1996 and is intended to raise environmental awareness and to help Australians connect with nature. In addition to tree planting, community activities can include site restoration and regeneration. The benefits of tree planting is well recognised but this year, the devasting impact of bushfires on our Australian flora and fauna further highlights the importance of this service activity.
SSIO Australia has proactively participated in community tree planting events over the years. The service activity allows members to practise the teachings of Sai Baba by contributing to events related to nature in their local communities.
The event this year was officially marked on the Sunday, 2nd of August. However, due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, many community tree planting events were cancelled. The regions of South Australia and Western Australia fortunately could continue with their planned events. In South Australia, 16 members enthusiastically participated in their local event and contributed by planting 1100 trees. There were 2 tree planting events in Western Australia that SSIO Australia members engaged in. A total of 30 members participated with some members returning for the second event! The activities allowed members of all ages to dedicate their time and effort to Mother Nature. There was wonderful teamwork and camaraderie among all the members and it was an opportunity to engage with and build relationships with members of the wider community.
In other regions, due to restrictions related to COVID-19, members participated at home. Some members planted trees in their gardens while others planted saplings and herbs in pots. It was a wonderful opportunity for families to spend time together and for children to learn the processes involved in planting and nurturing plants. An SSE student from Queensland shared that “I enjoyed seeing the lemon tree that I planted on Tree Day grow. I especially loved the tiny lemons that I saw appear on the tree”. An SSE Student from NSW Region East further said “Planting tree is one way to keep us connected to God. What I learnt from this lesson was to be more responsible and patient”. A detailed reflection by an SSE student from NSW of her experience during tree planting, which includes a beautiful drawing, is provided below.
Tree planting should not be reserved for one day of the year. Members can offer gratitude to Mother Nature by planting from the comfort of their home any time of the year. As this is the 95th year of the advent of Sathya Sai Baba, SSIO Australia aims to encourage at least 950 of its members to contribute to this offering.