The first Plant-for-the-Planet Academy of 2019 in Mali took place on 9 February. 63 children from the two fundamental public primary schools Boulkassoumbougou and Seydoubougou were keenly waiting for the Academy to start. The event was free-of-charge for all the attending children, aged from 10 to 16. The purpose of this Academy was again to create awareness for climate change effects and restoration in Mali and to train new Climate Justice Ambassadors.
The Academy began with some welcoming words of Mr Ibrahima Sissoko, director of Boulkassoumbougou school. The event took place there. Then the full attention of the children turned to the presentation “Now we children save the world!” given by Climate Justice Ambassadors Yvette Ngomo in French and Ngada Sissoko in Bamanankan. Complex topics, such as sources of CO2, global warming, photosynthesis, the climate crisis and global justice were presented in a suitable way for children – and nobody could be better for that task than a child of the same age as Sidiki Simpara who resumed the presentation. After the presentation, the participants had the chance to clarify their questions, like: How to fight climate change effects especially in Mali? How do plants grow up? What is the ozone layer?
For the following part the children were divided into small groups, to learn about global distribution and global justice in the so called “World Game”. The children distributed tokens, sweets and balloons among the continents displayed on the world map. The three figures symbolize the world’s population, wealth and CO2 emissions respectively. After seeing the real life distribution of these resources, all children agreed that the recent distribution is unjust. Although, only 0.5 percent of the world’s population live in Northamerica, they possess almost 30 percent of the world income and emit 20 percent of CO2 emissions. Therefore, the children redistributed the sweets and balloons, in order to visualize how a fair distribution would look like and to keep in mind that everyone should have equal rights.
In order to take action and speak up for their future, the children need good presentation and speaking skills. Therefore the particpiants prepared and presented short passages from the opening presentation they had listened to in the morning. They gave each other feedback on how to improve their presentations and their rhetorical skills in the future.
After a short lunch break, the children had the opportunity to take action for their future right away: They discussed about the best period to plant trees. In accordance with the Plant-for-the-Planet organizers and the school administration, it was decided to plant trees one month before the rainy season in the context of a planting party (between May and June 2019). Nevertheless, they received information on how to plant trees, when to plant them and how to take care of them.
Back to Boulkassoumbougou school a small group practiced the final presentation for the evening event and the rest of the children started the World Café. During this activity the participants were collecting ideas to the questions “How to get the attention of the media?”, “How to motivate adults, friends and classmatesß” and “How to organize a planting party?”. Afterwards the children gathered in their school groups and planned a their own project, which they would want to implement after the Academy. As: Kinder garden activities; a stop talking, start planting advocacy campaign; an SDG’s campaign; organize an environmental fair.
In the end of the day, family, friends and guests arrived for the evening event. The children proudly presented the prepared presentation and their ideas from the World Café.
An interesting day had come to an end. Apart from the experience and newly found knowledge, all participants were appointed as Ambassadors for Climate Justice and received a certificate, a Plant-for-the-Planet T-shirt and the book ‘Tree-by-Tree’.Organizers and guests were very impressed by the performance of the children.
The Academy was made possible thanks to the commitment of Boulkassoumbougou and Seydoubougou fundamental primary school representatives and due to the team of local organisers. Special thanks go to the Plant-for-the-Planet Programme Coordinator Yvette Ngomo and also to co-moderators Ngada Sissoko, Patricia Dembélé, teachers Jérôme Tyenou and Bassabaki Sanogo.
A huge thanks to all the helpers around the venue, technology, food and tree planting event. Without their support the Academy would not have been possible.