Racial Justice Resources

Presbyterian Church of Kabuga transforms schools

Students achieving perfect scores on Rwanda’s national school exams

by Ndayizeye Munyansanga Olivier | Mission Crossroads

Nursery school students wait to plant their trees. (Photo by Ndayizeye Munyansanga Olivier)

BUTARE, Rwanda — The Presbyterian Church of Kabuga, Rwanda, has two primary schools — Kabuga (with 310 students) and Muyumba (with 192 students). Parents, students and teachers are celebrating the fourth consecutive school year that students in Primary 6 in both schools have achieved a perfect score on Rwanda’s national examination.

Each school was built to show how small actions can be of great importance. They have become the high-quality schools they are today by building one classroom a year.

It is a blessing to have high-quality education among schools in our educational system. Our students, as early as nursery school, learn how a small action, like planting a tree, can be of great importance to our environment. This way of education contributes to the protection of biodiversity.

In the Presbyterian Church of Kabuga, students enjoy the shelter of trees between their school and the church. (Photo by Ndayizeye Munyansanga Olivier)

We plant trees to create a space for creative thinking and a source of inspiration for our students. Trees are an effective sound barrier and can limit noise pollution. Recent research shows that trees also help reduce the stress of modern life. To many people, a tree is the ultimate symbol of prosperity. Frank Lloyd Wright, an American architect, writer and educator, once said, “The best friend on Earth of man is the tree.”

Trees provide restful shade to humans and animals alike, and are home to numerous birds, insects and animals. Trees help us overcome fear, calm our bodies, and release our frustrations and anger. If you are dealing with issues from your past, use “green” to help bring harmony into any situation. Trees may even help to recompose unity among divided people, which is a challenge and vital mission in our society.

Green helps dissolve aggression in relationships or mend a broken heart. It helps release negative patterns and beliefs and can assist in centering yourself in stressful or shocking situations. Green replenishes your energy and helps you relax, meditate and heal.

Green helps revitalize the nervous system, heart, thymus, lungs and liver. It also stimulates growth and helps heal broken bones, build muscles and repair tissues. Green has the ability to purify the blood and restore health. It contains antibacterial qualities. On the shadow side, green has been linked to envy, jealousy and superstition. It is a color of fertility, truth, youthfulness and innocence.

In requesting students to plant trees, we are helping them to be aware of climate change and the rapid destruction of our planet. Trees absorb harmful carbon from the atmosphere and are key ingredients in 25% of all medicines. Trees provide jobs to more than 1.6 billion people.

Newly registered students have their own trees to plant. (Photo by Ndayizeye Munyansanga Olivier)

In looking after trees by watering, removing weeds around trees and protecting the trees, students developed the spirit of follow-up, the spirit of responsibility and the spirit of creativity. They are able to generate creative ideas. We are always illustrating the power of planting by a Talmudic story:

An old man was planting a tree. A young person passed by, and asked, “What are you planting?” “A carob tree,” the old man replied. “Silly fool,” said the youth. “Don’t you know that it takes 70 years for a carob tree to bear fruit?” “That’s OK,” said the old man. “Just as others planted for me, I plant for future generations.”

You are requested to love trees wherever you are.

You are invited to keep planting trees wherever you are.

You are obliged to protect trees in any kind of situation.

You are encouraged to plant at least one tree at the house you live in, and to check on it every morning, to feed it and to let it grow.

As Christians, we should be among the best environmentalists on the planet, because we uniquely understand what the environment is, what has gone wrong with it, what is being done to fix it and what our role is in relation to it.

Let’s work together
Designate a gift to support “environmental protection” through the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda:   pcusa.org/donate/E864102

The Rev. Dr. Ndayizeye Munyansanga Olivier is dean of the faculty of theology and religious studies of the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences in Butare, Rwanda.

Mission Crossroads is published three times a year by Presbyterian World Mission. To subscribe free within the U.S. or to access the magazine’s archives visit pcusa.org/missioncrossroads.


Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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