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Students Plant Fruit Trees at Uganda Schools

Official sign of AYOWECCA Uganda Supervised young people carefully plant a young fruit tree in Uganda. All following photos are courtesy Jonathan Olwenyi.

By Alfred Robert Hogan

Ugandan school children are becoming activists. They have been planting fruit trees on their school grounds that will bear fruit in about 18 months, in an environmental education practical lesson. The students in that East African country will eventually enjoy eating the resulting fruit.

Climate and environmental activist Jonathan Olwenyi’s nonprofit environmental and climate group, AYOWECCA Uganda—that stands for African Youth Women Emancipating Children and Community Alliance—received moral and some financial support from Fridays 4 Future Online, based in New South Wales, Australia, which let the East African nonprofit reward some of the schoolchildren with FFF “Protect Our Future From Fossil Fuels” T-shirts. The group Children for Climate Team Uganda was also involved.

“Our charity is called AYOWECCA UGANDA simply because all our projects are to benefit the indigenous people who are affected by both social and environmental challenges,” he said

Jonathan Olwenyi, far left, stands with some of his young tree-planters each holding one of the trees they were about to plant.

“The kids will be able to enjoy fruit during break time or lunch time,” said Olwenyi, of Uganda’s indigenous population, who earned his master’s degree in geographic information systems (GIS) from Makerere University Kampala in Kampala, Uganda. “They have a hard time concentrating when they are hungry.”

The different species of fruit trees planted were oranges (Citrus x sinensis), mangos (Mangifera indica), avocados (Persea americana), jackfruits (Artocarpus heterophyllus), pawpaws (Cyclimorphs solmsii), and guavas (Psidium guajava). A few other nonprofits have been helping plant trees in Uganda too.

Students, some wearing aqua-colored Fridays for Future T-shirts, plant trees in Uganda.

So far, this inspiring project has planted some 200 fruit trees on the grounds of 23 Ugandan primary schools, and more trees at 14 health centers there. In about six weeks, in September and October 2021 alone, some 1800 trees were planted. In Uganda, 3 million hectares of forest were lost between 1990 and 2015 from trees being cut down for firewood, charcoal burning, and timber, plus encroachment and unsustainable farming. The “ massive cutting down of trees is still taking place,” Olwenyi said.