Little Green Guardians: Children Leading the Change in Environmental Conservation in Rwanda’s  Hilly Heartland

Students of G.S Kinihira showcasing their kitchen garden

A remarkable initiative has taken root to cultivate a new generation of eco-conscious citizens in  a world where environmental concerns are at the forefront of global discussions. Imagine a group  of enthusiastic school children, armed with knowledge, and inspired by a TV education program, actively participating in environmental conservation efforts. It is not a far-fetched dream but a  reality unfolding in classrooms around the world. 

In a world where technology often competes with the great outdoors for a child’s attention, a  groundbreaking TV series is capturing the hearts and minds of young explorers within East Africa. , including Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania merging entertainment with a vital lesson in wildlife conservation.  “Team Sayari”, which targets 10,000 children between the ages of 7 and 12, is the focus of theNational Geographic’s Team Sayari Nature Positive Kids Outreach Program by WildlifeDirect in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Walt Disney Company Africa. The program educates children about wildlife  conservation and empowers them to become stewards of the environment. 

With the Nature Positive Outreach Kids Program, “Team Sayari” has expanded beyond the screen  into schools and communities. What sets this initiative apart is its tangible effect on the ground.  Inspired by what they’ve learned from the TV series, participating school children are taking  the initiative to implement real-world conservation projects in their communities. Children are  organizing tree-planting initiatives, participating in school clean-ups, recycling plastics, practicing sustainable waste management, and raising awareness and understanding of preserving and  safeguarding the environment. 

Tree planting initiative by the students of G.S Karwasa

In the scenic hills of Rwanda, where the lush greenery meets the blue skies, a heartening  movement is taking root. The guardians of tomorrow, our children, are leading the charge in  environmental conservation with their tiny hands, planting seeds of change. In a region where the  hills echo young souls’ laughter, the commitment to a sustainable future grows steadily as the crops  they nurture. 

Meet the little green pioneers of Rwanda, “Team Sayari “, who are part of the Nature Positive Kids  Outreach Program. These pioneers have embraced the responsibility of being  stewards of the environment. Armed with enthusiasm and a profound sense of purpose, these  youngsters engage in activities beyond playtime, including tree planting, kitchen gardening, and  sustainable waste management. 

The hillsides of Rwanda are witnessing a remarkable transformation as children enthusiastically  participate in tree-planting initiatives. With tiny hands embracing trees, they are not just planting  trees but sowing the seeds of hope and resilience. These young environmentalists understand that  trees are not just a source of shade but the lungs of our planet, purifying the air we breathe and  providing habitats for countless species.  

In one of the schools, G.S Karwasa in Msanze District, Rwanda, the Team Sayari’s Patron Tr.  Thociene was excited to share how the kids have planted avocado tree seedlings within the  school to increase food production and how Grevillea tree species have been planted outside  the school to support environmental conservation. According to the Patron, the efforts of these  school kids are creating a ripple effect that extends beyond the school gates. Neighbouring schools and children in the communities are taking notes. The community is witnessing the  potential for positive change when young minds are ignited with a sense of responsibility towards the environment. Despite the challenges the school faces, such as the lack of fences and the  destruction of trees by people and animals, they still need to be able to plant more trees. Listening  to the kids and learning how the Team Sayari episodes have changed their lives and motivated  them to grow more trees is even more encouraging. Ikuzwe Yvan, a Sayari member of G.S Karwasa, mentioned: “Planting trees helps attract rain and good air and prevents soil erosion”. 

Similarly, kitchen gardens bloom in the heart of these hilly communities, tended to by the diligent  hands of children turned aspiring gardeners. Beyond the colourful array of vegetables, including  indigenous vegetables and herbs, these kitchen gardens are fertile grounds for experiential  learning. As they witness the miracle of seeds turning into sustenance, children cultivate a love for  nature and practical skills that empower them to make informed choices about their food.  Imagine a school where the playground is not just for play but also for growing vegetables.

Moreover, waste management takes a front seat in the environmental endeavours of these young  champions. In a region where the balance between nature and human activity is crucial, these  children are pioneering the adoption of sustainable waste management practices. From creative  upcycling projects to community clean-up drives, they prove that even the most minor actions  can significantly impact. 

Mother Mary International School Complex students are building a water reservoir using recycled  plastic bottles

An example is Mother Mary International School Complex, an international school in Kibagabaga, Gasabo District, Rwanda which is at the forefront of waste management. Sayari team members from the school  have recycled plastic bottles to build a water reservoir. Through the water reservoir, the school  can harvest rainwater for their daily use. According to the school’s team, Sayari Patron, the school is also planning to go beyond the school and reach out to the  communities to build water tanks. 

G.S Mukondo students built a dustbin for waste management

The initiative taken by these children is not just about immediate results; it is an investment in a  sustainable future. Through their participation in environmental conservation efforts, they are  learning the value of stewardship, the interconnectedness of all living things, and the importance  of preserving the delicate balance of their hilly haven.

As the sun sets over the lush Rwandan hills, it paints a picture of hope, a landscape where the  efforts of today’s children will blossom into a greener, more sustainable tomorrow. The hills are alive  not just with the sound of nature but with the joyful laughter and purposeful actions of the little  green guardians, the true architects of a brighter and more eco-conscious future. 

Ultimately, these testimonials of school kids participating in environmental conservation activities  serve as a beacon of hope. They remind us that no action is too small, and everyone, regardless  of age, can contribute to a sustainable future.

In conclusion, as we witness these little eco-heroes in action, one thing becomes clear: our planet’s  future is well cared for. Educators, conservationists, parents, and communities must continue to  support and empower the next generation to be the environmental stewards our planet  desperately needs. Through collective efforts, we can ensure that the legacy of conservation is  passed down from one generation to the next, creating a positive and lasting impact on the  health of our planet.

For more information, please reach out to:

Naomi Kemei, Communications Consultant: naomi@wildlifedirect.org