Qalai Maksud, TAJIKISTAN -- For Khosiyat and Gulru, second grade students in School #86 in Qalai Maksud village, this school year is different. The school, which is in Tajikistan’s deforested eastern Rasht district, has received fruit trees from WFP and the two girls are now responsible for taking care of a pear tree and an apple tree each.
Khosiyat and Gulru’s school now boasts 500 tree seedlings in its garden and is one of 35 schools that have received tree seedlings under a WFP Tree Planting Project. The project complements WFP School Meals programme in these schools; the children will eat fresh fruits in school as part of their daily meal and the school will sell some to get additional income for the school meals programme. The children will also get to enjoy a much-improved environment with a fruit orchard on their school grounds.
“I love not only the fruits of the trees but also their flowers, especially apple, which has pink and white blossoms,” Gulru says. “My family house is very green with many trees and I hope that our school will be like our house: A school in a forest!”
The projected is funded by contributions from Japanese school children through the Japanese Eco-friendly Schools Campaign Initiative. Funds were then channelled to WFP Tajikistan by the Japan Association of WFP (JWFP).
WFP office in Tajikistan not only supported the schools with the donation of tree seedlings but also provided food rations for workers in charge of planting and providing initial care for the trees. WFP and the State Forestry Agency have also worked together in training the school staff. Specialists shared planting and caring techniques with school employees, who would then pass on the information to the children. For the children, this valuable knowledge will certainly help them in their future life.
In School #86, all 500 trees were distributed among the children so that every child is responsible for taking care of two fruit trees.
“I am planning to compete with my trees and see who grows faster; me or my pear tree,” says Khosiyat says.