Primary school students planting trees in Africa

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

142 students of Ntcheu Roman Catholic Primary School, Malawi, are planting trees in Africa.

Sr. Bertha teaches nearly 150 primary school students in Ntcheu, Malawi how to plant and care for trees and protect our precious environment.

In the heavily forested country of Malawi, forest sizes have fallen from 41.4% in 1990 to less than 35% in 2010. The reasons for deforestation in Malawi are abundant. Trees are cut down and burned in place (commonly known as "slash and burn" agriculture) in order to increase farmland. Trees are harvested for projects requiring building materials like hardwood and timber. In addition, Malawi's population is growing, nearly doubling every ten years and 95% of Malawians still use wood and charcoal for cooking.

Although wood is an extremely important resource in Malawi, the country has not been diligent about managing their forests or replanting the trees they are cutting down. Because of this, deforestation remains a serious threat to their environment.

But Sr. Bertha Chigowani, a participant of ASEC's Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program, is working to change this. She believea that educating the Malawian youth about caring for the environment will provide hope for the future and stop the harm that's being done to their forests.

Students Planting trees in Malawi, Africa

The Cameroon government in collaboration with the ministry of education, are filling a great need in Malawi by teaching students how care for the environment. As an extension to last year’s tree planting day, 142 primary school leaners of standard 7 at Ntcheu Roman Catholic Primary School in Nicheu, Malawi translated what they learned in the classroom into skills by planting trees this year. Besides planting these trees, students also learned how to care for the trees. The students were motivated and encouraged by their experience and plan to take what they’ve learned and apply it at home.

Sr. Bertha Chigowani says that the skills she learned in ASEC’s SLDI program helped her to organize this event for the students. Sr. Bertha emphasized the need for us to become more like St. Francis of Assisi, the champion of caring for the environment, by maintaining our common home of Mother Earth. She adds,

“The environment is crying out to us to do something because of the harm we have inflicted on it by our irresponsible actions like cutting down of trees carelessly and charcoal burning… When we are maintaining the environment, it means we are carrying out responsibly the great work entrusted to us by God after the creation and as we do so, it is for our own advantage because we benefit more from it.”

You can help Africa in their quest for self-sustainability

African sisters are using their education to solve the most serious issues that sub-Saharan Africa faces today, like deforestation. You can make a difference by donating to the education of a sister, just like Sr. Bertha, who is working towards sustainability in her country and bringing hope to the future of Africa.

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
Sr Bertha Chigowani, SSB

Sr Bertha Chigowani, SSB
SLDI Partcipant, Administration Track - Malawi  

Amy Fedele

Amy Fedele
Former ASEC Media & Communications Manager - USA  

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