Success Story – Gardens Of Hope


Gardens Of Hope In The Free State

Rainbow High School and Repholositswe Secondary School actively serve students in two impoverished rural communities in the Free State, South Africa, which endure high levels of violence and crime. Students have few opportunities for extracurricular activities. INMED’s Adaptive Agriculture Programme worked with the schools to create gardens to provide nutritious food for school meals and an outlet to give youth something productive to do after school.

The students’ response exceeded expectations. “We have 90 students in our environmental group, and they kept asking us when we will start the garden. Repholositswe’s environmental education teacher, Agnes Moletsane, says they were interested in learning how to do different things “They were so excited about helping set this garden up and even making their gardens like this at home.”

The Importance of the Environmental Club

Teachers at both schools emphasise the importance of the environmental club and the students’ work in the garden as an alternative to the gang activity pervasive in their communities. Mrs. Moletsane notes that the club helps to keep learners busy after school. She proudly reports that some club members who used to be gang members “have now assumed leadership roles.”

Ishmael Serame, the leader of the environmental club at Rainbow, which started with a small, neglected garden, shared his perspective on the garden’s power in offering an alternative to gangs. “This year, a well-known gang member in Grade 11 received an invitation from a friend to come and help at the vegetable garden. After seeing what others were doing after school hours, he asked if he could join the club. When asked why he would like to join, he said that he realised there are more positive things to learn after school than just going home and hanging around with the gang members causing problems in the community.”

The success of this programme has given students and teachers a sense of pride and enthusiasm, which has led to far-reaching changes in each community. Mr. Serame and Mrs. Moletsane report that their students apply what they learn by developing their gardens at home. Mr. Serame adds that his students “have already indicated their interest in studying agriculture when they complete high school.”

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