By Duncan Mlanjira
Jacaranda School for Orphans ended their first term for the Christmas holidays in unique style by being presented with trees to plant at their homes in the spirit of inculcating tree planting culture as well as impress on them on preserving the environment.
Each year Santa Claus visits the school where he usually gives the children sweets and other small gifts, but this year Jacaranda School management asked Santa Claus to bring indigenous trees instead of toys and sweets.
Founder of Jacaranda School, Marie Da Silva said management came up with the idea to impress the learners of the effects and dangers of climate change around the world and especially in Malawi.
She told the learners that there are fewer forests now due to the cutting down of forests for firewood but there is need to be replacing them since the country over relies on wood fuel.
Jacaranda School plants more than 5,000 trees each year and for this exercise over 428 trees were distributed, representing the enrollment number of learners in primary and secondary school.
“Our school understands the importance of taking care of our country and of our planet — that is what we inculcate on the learners,” Da Silva said.
“We have impressed them that they should take care of their gift throughout the years until the trees are fully grown and that after a year we shall be visiting their homes and reward those that have maintained the trees well.”
The indigenous trees provided were red mahogany (Mibawa); helicopter specie; mkalati wild springa bunxia; mtangatanga and mtsindzi.
On Wednesday, President Peter Mutharika launched the National Forestry Season at an event that took place in Mulanje District where he called on Malawians to support the government in environmental conservation by planting trees and managing forests as one way to fight impacts of climate change.
Of the 428 students, 62 are special needs day while 98 were orphaned by parents after succumbing to HIV/AIDS-related diseases.
Those that were affected receive proper medication and nutritional needs at the school’s clinic, which is administered by a certified nurse.
Some who of them are being raised by their grandmothers, who are provided with entrepreneurial skills and once completed are given micro credit loan of K50,000 to start businesses to fend for themselves and the wards they take care of.
The school operates on a day-release basis in order for the parents and their wards to claim ownership of their livelihood.
Some students who performance excellently are provided with scholarships to study further outside the country.
Da Silva said they currently have students studying even in Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana and the US.
Jacaranda has an outreach programme to provide library facilities for interested schools across Blantyre City and outside of it and so far it has reached out to 15 schools.
At the school’s premises in Chigumula, Limbe they also have a community library and a literacy centre which is stocked with academic and fictional books.