On 15 and 16 February 2018, Plant-For-The-Planet Rwanda chapter has conducted an Academy visited by 59 children of Gahengeri primary school from Byimana Sector, Ruhango District in Southern Province of Rwanda. Rwanda is landlocked African country located near equator towards Eastern part of Africa. The landscape of the country is made of mountains and hills which gives Rwanda a change to receive rains within 8 months a year. The vegetation of Rwanda is under the pressure of booming demography and the habit that threaten flora and fauna. Following this ecological situation, a group of young Rwandans under Plant-For-The-Planet, Rwanda chapter committed to protect and promote the plants of Rwanda through reforestation and tree planting in and through communities. In this regard, on the 15 and 16 th of February 2018, an Academy was organized to promote the awareness of youth and children on climate and environment issues and entice them to start early acting as environment actors. Through the cooperation with the leadership of Byimana Sector and Gahengeri Primary School, the team made of Paulin Ntihemuka, Hategekimana Senga Serge and Turabimana Serge with the guidance and support of Jean Felix Ntango carried out activities of academy with 59 pupils of the above-mentioned school.
Moreover, there was support from other contributors such as teachers and private nursery agents who facilitated the acquisition of seedlings that were planted. Altogether this made the Academy to be success. After a welcome note from the head teacher of the school, children performed a cheerful song to welcome the team of Plant-For-The-Planet. The trainings and discussions were facilitated by Paulin with the inputs from Serge and Jean Baptiste. Using various approaches such as PowerPoint, books, video and other tools received from Plant-For-The-Planet Foundation. Children got a chance to read books and brochures they received but also, they shared their knowledge of what happens in their community and subsequently commit to contribute their role to improve the situation.
During the Academy various techniques including songs and games were used to help them quickly and easily learn about climate issues. Children were invited to sing songs about the importance of trees, team working and pure air. All these songs helped children to come up with a comparative understanding and tangible message to the world in terms of its population, income distribution (earns of plants) and CO2 emission. For instance, during this Academy, children learnt that much as highly populated parts of the world are less privileged in terms of economy, they represent a high level of CO2 emission.
For the presentation and public speaking children were put in groups to discuss climate change related issues that are observable in their community. They were also asked to explain how trees can participate to resolve those issues at school or in their homes and communities. This session enthusiastically motivated children and challenged them to think about the proper behavior of humankind can guarantee a decent world for future generations. In the section, children insisted on erosion, heavy rains and draught, varying temperature. As children did presentations and asked questions for clarifications, they got an opportunity to nurture and practice presentation skills. They also collaborated to propose answers to identifies issues and committed to take the lead.
The World café was a chance for the participants to converse and present their ideas, on how they can actively face the climate change mitigation. First of all, children discuss possible approaches to follow for mobilizing other members of the community. Afterwards, they formed groups to allow them to re-assess the climate change issues in their surroundings; propose strategies for adaptation and mitigation as well their contribution towards environmental protection and conservation in general. Itwas a chance to let children know that no matter how young they are, they can still convey the message to adults, advocate for our mother planet, plant trees as well discourage malpractices of adults and leaders.
After indoor sessions, the activities of the Academy proceeded with the plantation of the seedlings. This was a chance especially for children to plant trees. Before planting, some teachers took speech to invite children to ensure that the trees they plant will grow. “If trees that have been planted in the world at least since early 80s have grown, there would not be any issue today”. These are the words of one of the teachers who wanted each child to regularly visit their trees and ensure they lack nothing and grow to serve the purpose.
On the second day, it was the closure of the Academy which was marked by awarding certificates to 59 children who subsequently were declared Climate Justice Ambassadors and given the responsibility to spread the word.
The pivotal goal of a Plant-for-the-Planet Academy is to raise awareness amongst the children about the Climate Crisis and to inspire them to take action. The goal of the children of Plant-for-the-Planet, Rwanda chapter is to empower 5 thousand children as “Climate Justice Ambassadors” in Rwanda through Academies by the year 2020. We remain convinced that the training provided them advanced knowledge to carry out necessary courses and presentations on climate change issues at all levels from schools to communities.Plant-For-The-Planet Rwanda chapter is organizing three Academies in the first three months of the year 2019. All these Academies will take place in the southern province of Rwanda because, there is the relationship already established and schools have spaces where trees can be planted.
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