A Time to Celebrate: Launching the New Sustainability Model

We are thrilled to announce that Giving Back to Africa is building on its success from its first three years of curriculum by launching a whole new curriculum model for 2014-2017!

Students will add to the knowledge of their clean water, waste management, and nutrition curriculums by completing a brand new three-year sustainability model. The model, which contains five individual modules, will follow the same general steps as the first model; students will identify needs in their community, they will learn about those needs through targeted lessons in their existing classes, and they will then apply their knowledge by serving their communities in various projects.

Module 1, slated to begin in late 2014 and run through 2015, is all about visioning in regards to agriculture. Students will learn about farming in their community and incorporate ideas of composting and nutrition into their thoughts on local agriculture. Module 2, for 2015, aims to help the children develop cooperative learning and problem solving skills. They will learn how to identify their community assets in order to improve community life. Module 3, planned four 2015-2016, will then assist the students in using those community assets to leverage resources from outside of the community. Students will utilize a range of skills to do this, including planning, proposing, budgeting, and project management. Their ultimate goal will be to plan for the creation of a Children’s Learning Garden.

Student Beya Beya and friend

In 2016 and 2017, the garden will turn from paper plans into a reality. The students will use Module 4 to work with adults in the community in order to hone in on the plan to construct the garden. Then, with Module 5, the students will actually begin to craft the garden, using the various lessons they’ve learned--- how to handle waste and manage water, how to plant crops sustainably, etc.--- since 2011.

The sustainability model, like the one before, will encourage students to view themselves as leaders in the community and as stewards of their natural environment. The service learning process emphasizes pre and post-module follow-up and reflection, the prominence of assets over needs, and the cascading effect of learning, where each new lesson builds upon the previous one, culminating in the finished Children’s Learning Garden. We hope that the students and teachers alike will realize their integral role in creating positive change in their communities, both individually and as a group.

In addition to expanding the modules, we are also looking to expand our program and partner with other schools in the area; teachers from other schools have been observing at College des Savior, and our students serve as ambassadors to inform the community about service-learning.

For example, five students presented skits and poems at Global Wash Hands Day at the Lukunga School on October 13th. The students were meticulous in practicing their presentations and worked with the teachers to improve them. People at the Global Wash Hands Day events were impressed by the student performances, and a local journalist told Dr. Jerry, “Your kids did well. I want to learn about what you are doing to have (that) kind of kids, and I need (a) partnership with you.”

Our teachers were extremely proud of the courage and dedication of the student presenters. Mr. Pombo and Mr. Emmanuel called the five students leaders. Their presentations promoted local solutions to hand washing problems, such as using ash or building your own hand washing technique, while participants from the other schools only drew on outside solutions. The students reflected on their current assets—like access to recycled materials—and found a solution that started with them, right in their own community.

Artist, students, and Ann Marie Thomson painting the five GBA leadership skills

These are the kinds of lessons students will use in the sustainability model. The teachers are participating in training in order to best facilitate these learning discoveries. Teachers attend a variety of training activities, including sessions with GBA Program Manager Dr. Jerry Kindomba. In one recent exercise, the teachers took a walk around their community and observed sustainable and unsustainable living practices, such as covered waste bins versus waste left out on the ground. The teachers remarked on appreciation shown by the community from the students’ efforts to clean up; they hope that they can get the entire community involved in the use of sustainable practices, not just the students.

This is an exciting time, as we all continue to grow and learn together. We hope that you will continue to stay engaged with the process of the sustainability model by following our social media channels and donating your time, talents, or resources to the program. Be sure to check back here soon for more details about the model!

Thank you for your continued support!