Three years ago Osmel Francis Turner, health activist, created the International Mother Earth Festival, his main objective being to sensitize people to live in harmony with the earth and its ecosystems via art.
“The event, which take place between April 1st and June 5th, is mainly about changing life habits, with the arts as its axis”, underlined Turner, who is also the president of the event and who plans to take it across the country in 2015.
“If each one of us makes little changes, it will be enough to stop the disaster”, he added.
Turner developed a concern for animal abuse at a young age and he was just a child when he composed his first song. He had found a toad one day at a friend´s party, which he picked up and handled carelessly. That night, his parents went to Tropicana and they told him he could not go. Osmel started to cry and the toxins from the toad itself caused him to be temporarily blind. “I thought I had lost my eyesight forever. The next day when I got my eyesight back I wrote a song that said that when a child is suffering he must not make an animal suffer. From then on, my internal process began. As a youngster I worked at Baconao park, in the eastern part of the country and I discovered a variety of life forms, different from those that exist there today”, he pointed out.
Another experience that marked him was the time he spent in the Canary Islands. The environmental situation in this Spanish region is one that Turner foresees might spread to other areas of the world due to climatic changes. In the Canary islands, fresh water costs more than gas due to its scarcity. In addition there is no fertile soil to be found so it was necessary to develop the cultivation of patio gardens and localized irrigation. Everything is recycled here; sea water is desalinated and big aeolic parks are being built.
“Everytime I saw that I would say to myself that I had to go back to my country and warn my people of the real dangers. When the Canarians realized I was Cuban they would say: “In Cuba, a bird drops a seed and a tree grows”. We Cubans don’t realize how valuable that is because we think we’re always going to have it, but if we continue as we are that will not be the case at all”, he warned.
The third edition of the International Mother Earth Festival includes community fairs, pro-environmental events such as planting trees, exhibitions of nature-friendly technologies, audio-visual environmental demos, the sale of environmental literature for all ages, music shows, theater and dance, photography and plastic arts exhibitions, art workshops using recycled materials, an environmental carnival, a meeting of indigenous cultures, a run and walk for the Earth, all with the objective to encourage healthy habits in people like committing to exercise and taking care of the environment.
“There are many changes one can make, for example, consuming less resources which promotes harmony with the earth. It would also be helpful to modify things such as food production and encouraging the use of renewable energies which eliminates the emission of carbon dioxide, the main cause of climatic change”, he explained.
According to Turner, this year the event had a very important moment during the second week of April. The Cuban representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Theodor Friedrich, gave a conference on soil conservation, to which the entity is dedicating 2015. An official of Ecuador’s Environmental Department gave a conference on swamps, and another international specialist talked about bats.