HAVANA._ With the intention of creating awareness among the population through the medium of art in order to live in greater harmony with the earth and its ecosystems, Osmel Francis Turner is promoting the International Mother Earth Festival throughout all of Cuba.

The health activist and festival president told the Prensa Latina news agency that “the event running from April 1 to June 5 seeks, with art as an axis, to alter deeply instilled habits.”

 With the intention of creating awareness among the population through the medium of art in order to live in greater harmony with the earth and its ecosystems, Osmel Francis Turner is promoting the International Mother Earth Festival throughout all of Cuba.He added that “small changes undertaken by everybody amount to enough to avert disaster.”

Turner was born with an aversion to animal cruelty and, as a result of a fright, he composed his first childhood song.

On that fateful day he had found and petted a toad at a children’s party. As he did not understand why his parents wouldn’t let him bring the animal to the Tropicana cabaret later that night, he started to cry and was temporarily blinded by the toad’s toxins.

He said, “I thought I had permanently lost my sight and when it returned the following day I wrote a song that goes: when a child suffers, he should not make an animal suffer too.”

“So began a long process for me. While still very young I worked in Baconao park where I discovered ways of life very different to those of today,” he said.

Another experience that left its mark on him was his stay on the Canary Islands. This autonomous Spanish community had for some time been suffering a situation caused by climate change that Turner could envision affecting other islands around the world.

On the islands, water is more costly than gasoline due to scarcity, locally irrigated cultivation takes place on terraces because there are no fertile lands, everything is recycled, sea water is desalinated and large wind farms have been built.

“Every time I saw this I told myself that I must go to my own country and warn the people about such real and present dangers. Whenever people from the Canaries would hear that I was Cuban, they would recite a saying: “a bird in Cuba dropped a seed and a tree appeared,” he recalled.

He cautioned that “we Cubans take this for granted because we consider that it will be this way eternally, but, if we continue like this, it will not be so for much longer.”

The International Mother Earth Festival includes events such as community fairs, pro-environment activities such as tree planting, environmentally-friendly technology exhibitions, audiovisual environmental demonstrations, and a book fair and sale with works for both old and young.

The festival also features music, theatre and dance shows, photography and visual arts exhibitions, creative recycling workshops, an environmental caravan, a meeting of indigenous cultures, and a walk/run Earth marathon.

“There are many forms to change. When you save energy, for example, you ensure greater harmony through the enhancement of the human-earth relationship,” he stated, adding that nutritional and food production pattern modifications, including the use of clean technologies in production processes, are also on the horizon.

This year’s theoretical event reached a climax during the second week of April when the UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) representative in Cuba, Theodor Friedrich, presented a seminar on soil conservation.

 With the intention of creating awareness among the population through the medium of art in order to live in greater harmony with the earth and its ecosystems, Osmel Francis Turner is promoting the International Mother Earth Festival throughout all of Cuba.Moreover, an Ecuadorian official from that nation’s Ministry of Environment hosted a conference on mangroves while another international expert gave a presentation on the importance of bats.

Similarly, in Havana’s Quinta de los Molinos, a group of ecologists managed to reproduce polimitos and created a new butterfly farm.

There is a diverse range of activities -- always with an artistic element -- planned for the coming months in places such as Maisí in eastern-most Cuba, Baracoa, Moa, and Gibara, among others.

Having returned to Havana, the Festival will close next June 5 with a grand concert in the Morro-Cabaña park.

The event will bring together the Havana Bay Working Group, the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, and FAO in an extensive environmental responsibility fair that will culminate in a musical show featuring Descemer Bueno, los Van Van, and other popular
bands.

“We are not trying to change everything overnight, but every time you change something, however small, such as the habit of walking, of optimizing processes, or recycling, it amounts to a contribution,” he concluded.

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