A boy by a vegetable patch

The Importance of Skilling Our Children

Learning Lifelong Skills

Teaching practical skills to the children undergoing rehabilitation is at the core of the Permaculture programme being run at S.A.L.V.E. International’s 5-acre site. Most of them have spent a long time away from their homes living on the streets and find it hard to cope with the roles expected of them when they return. Most of the children are from rural settings where agriculture is the main economic activity. Therefore developing agricultural skills enables these children to reintegrate more easily into their homes and communities. With our Permaculture programme we go further, by providing an approach to production that is more sustainable than the way conventional farming is carried out in most village settings.

Overcoming Challenges

Some children dislike being taught these skills at first, which is to be expected. They are seen as boring and the children have learnt to make quick and easy money whilst on the streets selling scrap metals, carrying plastics and removing rubbish etc. After this, they don’t want to go back to a life digging the land and waiting for crops to grow in order to make money. Some have even been mistreated by parents and guardians through unequitable sharing of proceeds from gardens back home. Such disappointments, coupled with fear, cause discouragement.

Our approach is to introduce them to a newer process of land cultivation. It begins with drawing up plans then mapping the area. This is followed by an in-depth overview of the available resources including the soil, water, plants, and wildlife. This arouses their interests because it helps them appreciate and develop a greater understanding of their environment. After this, the children stop running away from the farm work and choose to spend more time with their teachers to find out more. We encourage them to draw sketches and plan as much as possible. As well as being fun, this challenges their perception of farming as a job for the uneducated to a vocation of wisdom.

Sam’s Story

Sam* started coming to our classes at S.A.L.V.E. and shared that he was interested in vegetable farming a crop not grown in his home district. He wanted to create a successful nursery and at first thought we wouldn’t help. However, the teachers dedicated more time to Sam and his close friends for this project.

Initially in class, we taught the importance of starting vegetable crops from a proper nursery bed.  Next we carried out practical sessions where the group built their bed and planted collards (similar to cabbages) in it. The students all enjoyed this creative learning process.

After this Sam asked the teacher if he could create a nursery alone, without the help of the group, as he wanted to challenge himself and develop his learning. He began by using the correct tools to build his bed, constructed a shade around it and then planted his crops. After a few weeks, Sam was really happy to see his sprouts growing so vigorously. Currently, he is transplanting his plants to the main gardens.

We are so grateful to provide Sam with these skills and are sure that once he gets resettled, he will take these skills home and help transform his community. Transformation takes various stages and through the passing of knowledge from one person to another, change occurs.

Here at S.A.L.V.E International, imparting skills is our way of life. We thank all our supporters and ask stakeholders to continue standing with us in our endeavour to encourage children away from the streets and become well rounded individuals when they return home.

*Name of child has been changed in line with our Child Protection Policy

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