As an international volunteer with Roots & Shoots in Kigoma, I have been invited to join two trips to the Masito-Ugalla area to initiate Roots & Shoots clubs in order to increase young people’s knowledge and willingness to conserve their natural resources.
After a beautiful journey through the hills surrounding the Masito Ugalla area. we crossed the Malagarasi river to visit our first school. Mkuyu primary school is one of the most underprivileged in the region. It had no teachers’ office and lacked both classrooms and teachers. Similarly, in Mazungwe primary school, the smallest kids were sitting in an open-air classroom, using the sand as a notebook.
An open-air classroom in Mazungwe primary school
The Environmental Education Officer for the MUE program would begin our presentation by talking about the environment, whilst I would tell the kids about Doctor Goodall’s story and another Roots & Shoots volunteer would give further details on Roots & Shoots philosophy and how to create a club and run it efficiently. During a week’s trip, we visited eleven other schools around Uvinza and Mpanda town, taking every opportunity we had to speak to the local authorities about our initiative.
As we traveled across the region, we visited Katavi National Park where we saw many hippos, giraffes, zebras, a hyena and two lions. We also came across two big challenges for the MUE projet; firewood extraction by the salt factories, and shifting agriculture practiced on a wide scale by the refugees, destroying large portions of the forest. The poor teaching and learning environment together with the lack of water supply sources in some of the schools might also cause some difficulties in implementing Roots & Shoots activities.
However, everywhere we went teachers and students proved very enthusiastic and inspired by our visit. It was quite encouraging for them to see someone coming from a very distant country to share ideas about Roots & Shoots, as it shows that this program brings together young people from all origins, so that we can understand each other better. So there are many reasons for us to have good hopes for the future of the Masito Ugalla area, as its youth will soon engage in positive action to preserve their environment and community and become part of the global Roots & Shoots network.