Today’s youth have been labeled ‘lazy’, ‘theoretical’ and ‘uncompassionate’ by a section of the older generation. They accuse them of preferring a soft life such as watching television and partying a lot.
“The children of today fear getting dirty or sweating. They can’t dig or participate in house chores,” Deus Kwitonda, a father of three, says of today’s young generation.
However students of AIPER Nyandungu have demystified any such perceptions. The learners have decided to use their agriculture knowledge and skills to help the community. That is how they came up with the idea of establishing backyard gardens (akarima k’igikoni) for the poor and elderly people within their community.
“We looked at the benefits of backyard gardens and thought our students should create them for different people,” Moses Murwanashaka, the school discipline master, explains.
“We also wanted to change the students’ attitudes and perceptions about agriculture. It is always good for students to participate in activities that lead to the development of their country.”
The resolution to improve the livelihood of some families was made a few months ago, and several people have so far benefited from the generosity of AIPER Nyandungu.
Beneficiaries speak out
Anonsiyata Nzanywayimana, one of the beneficiaries, is all praises for the students’ invaluable help.
“I always envied my neighbours’ backyard gardens but had never figured out how to pull off a similar project. I am so glad the students have made my dream come true,” Nzanywayimana says.
She believes her garden will improve her nutrition and health, plus save her money originally spent on greens.
Nzanywayimana, who cannot hide her excitement, says the actions of the students prove that the future of Rwanda is very bright.
Students not left out
They say ‘you learn by doing’ and if there’s anything students have gained from this voluntary service, it is how to maximally utilize a small piece of land.
“The skills and knowledge I have gained will help me do the same for my family. There’s no way my family cannot have a vegetable garden when I’m alive,” says Cynthia Ndizeye, a student.
Murwanashaka believes that equipping students with such skills, morals and values is one way of helping them to be self reliant and patriotic.
“Students should not only get academic knowledge but also other life lessons and skills that can help them after school,” he says.
In order to achieve their desired satisfaction, the students, with support from the school management, plan to continuously help beneficiaries of the backyard gardens by giving them free labour and vegetable seeds.
The school also resolved to create one such garden for someone in the community every last Saturday of the month. This will be their ‘Umuganda’ (community service), a true reflection of their school motto: “Service beyond self.”
What students think about the project
Helping a citizen acquire a vegetable garden is a noble thing to do. Such acts only remind us of our duty to love each other and be united.
The community service we are engaging in helps us to contribute to national development. As youth, we can improve the life of many people.
I’m glad we helped some people get a vegetable garden. Personally, I learnt that through teamwork anything can be achieved.
As we strive for self reliance, such initiatives give us a platform to learn and perfect our practical skills. This is something I can also do at home.