Saturday, August 27, 2011

Growing a Better Tomorrow: A Sustainable Plan for our Future

Over 10 million people in the Horn of Africa and East Africa are struggling to survive in the driest period on record in 60 years. Very poor rainfall has led to crop failures and livestock deaths in the region, which in turn has resulted in rising food prices in an already unstable economic environment.

Our hearts go out to the children and families across East Africa who are facing severe malnutrition and economic strife as a result of this current crisis.

At Sabina Primary School we are making continued strides in our Food and Water Security (FWS) program to help safeguard our kids from the devastating effects of drought and food shortage.A mere three years ago, we introduced the concept of permaculture (permanent agriculture) to our staff at Sabina with the intention of giving them the tools to grow more of our own food, store more water, teach the children sustainable agriculture skills, and move towards food and water security at our school.

Our staff took up the challenge, in spades! We now have fruit trees producing mangoes, jackfruit, avocadoes, and pawpaw for our children. Thanks to new water tanks that store wet season rain, our gardens also produce potatoes, carrots, beets, pumpkins, eggplants and other vegetables that add valuable nutrition to the school's staple diet of posho (corn-basedporridge) and beans. Our chickens, too, are contributing: eggs are now a weekly addition to the children's diet, with surplus eggs sold on the local market (where their bright yellow yolks set them apart).

But, perhaps the most vital crop reaped is the garden's new role as a learning tool, which sprang from the participation of seven of our teachers in a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course held at our school in 2010. Those seven teachers have since drafted a new curriculum in partnership with the Department of Education that will integrate our permaculture-based garden into every classroom subject - sciences, math, arts, reading and writing, as well as agriculture. Indeed, the Department of Education has proposed using our school as a model for experiential learning - taking the children out of the classroom and into the garden for hands-on activities. (How many ways can you cut up a jackfruit to get one-half: two quarters; four eighths; one quarter and two eighths - so much easier to see a fraction when you have your hands on it - and get to eat it at the end of class!)

We are so proud of our teachers and our students. Their energy levels are up in so many ways: proof in the pudding that good nutrition grows the body and the mind!

Please stay tuned for news from Prue Gill, the Australian teacher and Board Member of the Stephanie Alexander Foundation. Prue is working alongside Sabina's teachers to bring our Food and Water Security program alive in our classrooms.

Posted by Jan Smart, Vice Chair (Programs), Board of Directors, Children of Uganda


sheri said...

God bless all of those who share their lives and knowledge with His children of the world.

May you each recieve as much joy as you give.

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