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Al Azhar High School eco-club plants 100 trees in collaboration with FTFA, ABSA

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By Aneeqa du Plessis

Despite the gloomy weather experienced across the Mother City today, Al Azhar High School’s eco-club was in high spirits, the group spent the better part of the morning planting 100 trees around the institution. The fruit and indigenous trees were provided by Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) in collaboration with ABSA Bank.

Speaking to VOC News between the crops, Head of the eco-club and Mathematics teacher at the school Najma Schroeder said the club was started just under two years ago.

“Getting your hands dirty is such a relief from Algebra! It is a stress relief; it is rewarding despite the bugs you may find between soil. However, this was not my brainchild, but I did take over and that’s when I decided students need to get involved. The fifty members of the club are very invested in this project Alhamdullilah! (God has willed),” explained an excited Schroeder.

“There’s a hadith that speaks about planting trees and the rewards that come with the benefits that are provided for Allah’s creation. So, not only are we teaching the students secular values but at the core we are instilling Islamic values,” said Schroeder.

The produce from the garden is sold to students and parents and has even developed into selling to surrounding food businesses in the area.

“We want to expand to more businesses and if anyone is interested, they are welcome to come out and see what crops we have available,” added Schroeder.

Head of Strategy Execution and Business Alignment at Absa Corporate Citizenship, Mpho Nhlabathi, detailed their reason for contributing to the cause.

“We were intentional about this partnership with FTFA because we want to drive food security and preservation of the environment. We are grateful to Al Azhar High School for opening their doors to us and we are happy to expand their efforts and drive environmental activism and entrepreneurship in the students, community, and our colleagues,” said Nhlabathi.

Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) is a leading Section 21 Non-Profit Organisation that addresses food security, environmental sustainability, and greening.

Facilitator at FTFA for more than a decade, Melissa Andrews explained their role in today’s project.

“Food insecurity is rife in the country, and we are passionate about greening the country, especially in conjunction with schools that can show they are serious about it. This is a legacy that the kids are leaving behind,” explained Andrews.

She further stated why it is important to inspire youth to get their hands dirty.

“The joy for me comes from feeling like I’m apart of something that matters. Helping communities become self-sufficient and self-reliant. We are not just taking care of ourselves but of those around us,” added Andrews.

Principal at Al Azhar High School, Ashiek Manie said the intention of the project is to spread the message of saving the earth.

“What it does for the learners is invaluable. It creates a consciousness around preserving the environment. It gives them a sense of responsibility. There is a lot of interest from the students. Five years from now, I want this garden to be used as a beacon of hope and a reminder that it is our duty to care for the earth and the students will carry these values within them in every industry they end up in,” said Manie.


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