Tree By Tree; Part IV
“I have learnt that children and youth learn best when they are socialized to do things or participate in doing things with their own hands. Hence, our rallying call and motto- #greenschoolsinitiative where each student in our partner schools, not only plants a tree, but also takes care of the tree they have planted.” - Sam Mutua
Ava: What was your journey to get where you are today?
Sam: It has been tough; I come from a region in Kenya, which is semi-arid (receives limited rainfall). In fact, our tree nursery is located close to the borders of 3 counties (Kajiado, Makueni and Machakos). Communities living in these 3 counties more often than not, experience recurring droughts, which undermines the livelihoods of many poor families. This has witnessed an upsurge in cutting down of trees to make charcoal, which is sold to provide income to buy food and educate their children.
This trade has serious environmental ramifications in the long term and our #greenschoolsinitiative was motivated by this challenge. This movement was put in place to educate the youth on the value of trees and give them an opportunity to appreciate how trees are interconnected with a sustainable environment for the future; a future that largely belongs to them. Thus taking charge of their own destiny. Additionally my hands-on experience from my childhood up-bringing where my mother- taught me how to plant trees, I have learnt that children and youth learn best when they are socialized to do things or participate in doing things with their own hands. Hence, our rallying call and motto- #greenschoolsinitiative where each student in our partner schools, not only plants a tree/s but also takes care of the tree/s she/he has planted.
I am excited that this tree planting culture has already started to trickle down to the families of the participating students and now to their own communities. Today we have 3 women groups in 3 respective communities from the 3 counties of Makueni, Machakos and Kajiado who are working with us to plant trees in their own communities. To create awareness about tree planting and continue to deepen the culture of tree planting among our youth and target communities, each tree planting exercise is presided with a general awareness and campaign on the value of trees.
Sam: Water is a big problem in our area and indeed in our targeted communities. The biggest challenge was initially establishing a reliable source of water for growing and nurturing the tree seedlings in our Nursery in order to start off the project, I used family savings to drill a 215M deep-water borehole, which supplies water to the tree nursery.
Ava: What have been your greatest successes?
Sam: To see school students/pupils actively participating in planting trees in their schools is a great success and indeed gives me a lot of satisfaction. This, closely followed with the increased awareness on tree planting in their own families and communities especially among the pastoral Maasai communities from the neighboring Kajiado County, is extremely exciting to me. Most of the time, when I help other mothers and their children appreciate the planting of trees, I silently reflect on the teachings from my mother.
Join us for Part V of this series, in which we discuss Sam's future aspirations, along with how individuals can help support tree-planting initiatives.
Follow Sam's work on instagram: @konzagreens
Learn more about his work with 8 Billion Trees.