On 11th June 2019, together with a dedicated team of environmentalists (Serge Senga Hategekimana, Emmanuel Sindikubwabo and Jean Baptiste Turabimana) Plant-for-the-Planet started an academy at Groupe Scholaire Nzove, Nyarugenge district in Kigali City. Here, 72 participants planted 24 trees together with the schools supports. All participating children were assembled for training, discussion and knowledge-sharing on climate issues.
Rwanda is a landlocked African country located near the equator towards the eastern part of Africa. The landscape of the country is made of mountains and hills which give Rwanda a chance to receive rains within 8 months each year. The vegetation of Rwanda is under the pressure of booming demography and the habit that threatens flora and fauna. Following this ecological situation, a group of young Rwandans and me, as the “Plant-For-The-Planet”program coordinator and Plant-For-The-Planet Initiative board member, are committed to protect and promote the plants of Rwanda through reforestation and tree planting in and through communities. Also we are doing something that can help humankinds and biodiversity live in a healthy environment. In this regard, on 13th, June 2019, an academy was organized to promote the youth´s and children´s awareness about climate and environment issues and entice them to start early acting as environmental actors. Through the cooperation with the leadership of Groupe Scholaire Nzove Environment Club and some school staff, the team and I carried out the activities of the academy with 72 students of the above-mentioned school.
Moreover, there was support from other people such as teachers or private nursery agents who facilitated the acquisition of seedlings that were planted. Altogether, the academy was a 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 lead by the “Plant-For-The-Planet” program coordinator with the inputs from Serge and Emmanuel who joined the team this year and Jean Baptiste. Using various approaches such as PowerPoint, books, videos and other tools received from the “Plant-For-The-Planet” Foundation, Children got a chance to read books and brochures they received but also to share their knowledge about what happens in their community and subsequently commit to contribute their role to improve the situation. Team members relayed through several activities of the academy and they worked hand in hand to ensure the comprehension.
During the academy various techniques including songs and games as well as icebreaking were used to help them quickly and easily learn about climate issues and interact with each other without fear. Children were invited to sing songs about the importance of trees, team working and pure air. It is fortunate that there were existing Environment Club at the schools and we worker hand in hand with the club to make the academy more successful. The facilitators also helped children learn new songs that allowed them to know about CO2 emissions, as it is in the “Plant-For-The-Planet” PowerPoint presentation. 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 and CO2 emission. For instance, during this academy, children learnt that highly populated parts of the world are less privileged in terms of economy, however represent a high level of CO2 emission.
Children were put in groups to discuss climate change related issues that are observable in their community and also they were requested to present what they discussed. 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 that mindful behavior of humankind can guarantee a decent world for future generations. In the section, children focused on erosion, heavy rains, draught and 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 identify issues and commit 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 randomly formed small groups to discuss possible approaches to follow for mobilizing other members of the community. Afterwards, children 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.World Café was 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 and also discourage malpractices of adults and leaders.After indoor sessions, the activities of the academy proceeded with the plantation of the seedlings. Some school staff who was present said that each and every child has to make sure those trees planted grow well at his/her time at the school. 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. Various trees were planted including fruit trees and ordinal trees. We planted only 24 trees.
After trees planting activities and networking, it was the closure of the academy which was marked by awarding certificates to 72 children who subsequently were declared CLIMATE JUSTICE ABASSADORS and given the responsibility to spread the word and pledged to conserve the environment. 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 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. We are still working on the same goal to empower 5 thousand children as “Climate Justice Ambassadors” in Rwanda through Academies by the year 2020. I 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 as well as the entire country.
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All photos can be downloaded here.