By MARCIA GANDHI
RAVYNA Jassani is 15, and not quite sure what she wants to be when she grows up. But she is convinced that she will work in the environment sector. This young environmentalist from Selangor has her heart set on looking out for Mother Nature.
It was this love for the environment that inspired her to take part in a 10-day marine conservation project around the coast of Sabah in February onboard the Pangaea Exploration Vessel.
The Pangaea Borneo Project is organised by world explorer Mike Horn’s Young Explorers Programme (YEP), where selected young adults between 15 and 20 from every continent, learn about the flora and fauna, as well as the culture and traditions of the places they visit.
Ravyna first heard about the YEP project from her friends. After doing some research, she felt that it was the perfect programme for her as she identified with the three main aims of the YEP, which is explore, learn and act. Ravyna sent in her application and was selected to join nine other teen explorers from Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Poland and South Africa for the Pangaea Borneo Project.
During the expedition, Ravyna learnt how to sail, snorkel and scuba dive. She also lernt about marine life from experts in the field. Rayvna and her fellow explorers carried out reef checks, did beach clean-ups, and visited a turtle sanctuary, as well as coral, pearl and abalone harvesting farms.
They also hiked up the dormant volcano of Bohey Dulang Island and even saw a “fish bomb” explode.
The explosion resulted in dead fish floating on the water surface. After seeing the incident first hand, Ravyna is determined to raise awareness on the adverse effects of fish bombs on marine life.
“After the Borneo Project, I became more open and confident, and I contacted many local environmental groups. I never thought that I could make a difference but after meeting Mike Horn and taking part in the project, he made me believe that I can do it. Being with him is really inspiring because you feel like you can do whatever you want and achieve anything,” Ravyna shares.
Ravyna also became passionate about sharks after returning from the project. The fact that she did not see any sharks on any of her dives along the coast of Sabah only made her more determined to save them.
To spread the word, Ravyna has set up a blog (www.oceansbiteback.blogspot.com), and made her presence known on Facebook (www.facebook.com/oceansbiteback) as well.
Ravyna’s new found motivation also inspired her to initiate the Earth Hour Youth Fest 2011 held at Sunway Giza Mall, Selangor, in March. The event was supported by her family, friends, two local environmental organisations namely Friends of Kota Damansara and MYGreen Scouting as well as the Mike Horn Pangaea team.
Her experiences in Sabah has made Ravyna all the more determined to learn more about the environment. She will be taking part in the 10th Pangaea Young Explorers Selection Camp in Switzerland at the end of September with 15 other young people from all over the world.
Eight of them will then be selected to accompany Mike on the Pangaea USA Expedition to the Gulf of Mexico, the port of New Orleans and Everglades National Park in Florida.
“The selection camp is going to be physically challenging, but I am prepared. I want to continue doing things that I like including making a difference and doing things for the environment. I want to inspire people, and I want to motivate other people, as much as I am motivated, to either take part in the programme or just to care for the environment and want to make a difference.
“This is our only home, our only earth and if we don’t do anything about it – no one else is going to do it. So it’s important that everyone from around the world just act together to make a difference because we don’t have much time.”
For more information on the Mike Horn’s Young Explorers Programme, go to pangaea-yep.com