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< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
PARAMARIBO—Suriname’s annual Rainforest Art Festival got off to a good start Thursday morning. Around 8.00am hundreds of school children poured out of buses at Paramaribo’s historic Fort Zeelandia to take part in the Students’ Program that was designed to increase awareness among Suriname’s youth about the importance of preserving nature on the Guiana Shield. They followed workshops in nature preservation, first aid, sanitation, pollution and even journalism. When they were driving up, it may not have been clear to all the children why they were heading for the Fort; but once they got there they certainly did enjoy themselves. “It’s going great,” fifth graders from the public school at Clevia cheered when they were asked how they were doing.
The Rainforest Festival brings together creative art performance including dance, song, theater and art; it was initiated in 2005 to promote awareness of rain forest protection. This year’s edition is themed “the Guiana Shield”, a 2.5 million km2 area of South America that spans from Colombia in the west to the Brazilian state of Amapá in the east, including the Venezuelan states of Delta Amacuro, Bolívar and Amazonas, all of Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname and continuing into the Brazilian States of Pará, Roraima and Amazonas. All events that are part of the festival are in light of the Guiana Shield.
“The start was definitely great, the vibe has been awakened,” said Maikel Austen, initiator of the festival. “You can feel that a lot is about to happen.” Around 4.00pm, with the children already back at home, he was still at the Fort preparing for the opening event that featured performances by the Rainforest Orchestra lead by director Rielle Mardjo and performances of kaseko music by Ruben Muringen’s Wan Famiri band. “I’m here at the presentation and it’s a great atmosphere, seeing all everybody prepare for tonight,” said Austen. The opening also featured the Forest Film Festival which is done in cooperation with the US embassy; first to show was the film “Queen of the Trees”; also opening was the art expo and art café featuring work by some of Suriname’s leading artistes and rare work from the Bank of Suriname’s Art Collection.
Austen promised a stellar overall event. “We’ve organized for an event that’s totally out of the box, with events in which art will be used as a tool to call for attention for the Guiana Shield,” he explained. He said the public would get its “money’s worth”. “The fashion show on the wall of the Fort is going to be great, as will the fair and the musical performances. We have a good blend of local and foreign performers in our line-ups,” he said.
click below for more pictures by Naomi Loswijk and Ruth San A Jong