Vegetable gardens and nutrition awareness in Congo

In the Haut-Katanga province on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the "Bureau Salésien des Projets et de
Développement Don Bosco" charity has created two school gardens: one at the "Maison d’accueil et d’écoute" in
Bakanja-Ville, a school for children aged 6 to 18, and another at "Maison des Jeunes", a vocational training center in
Lubumbashi. The charity aims to reintegrate over 600 children every year who are living on the streets and cut off
from their families and society. The organization accomplishes this goal by teaching the children a trade such as masonry, carpentry, sewing, or agriculture.

Two kitchen gardens were created by the young children and adolescents themselves. The children built a fence,
cleaned up the area, created planting beds, and added compost and horse manure to improve the soil before
planting. The organization also plans to raise chickens, pigeons, and quail to help further enrich the soil, which is very
dry and rocky. Irrigation systems, including a pump, cistern, and a rotating sprinkler, were also set up to water the
gardens during the dry season.

Once the construction was finalized, the children were able to plant, water, care for, and harvest common
vegetables such as cabbage, bok choy, spinach, amaranth, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, beans, corn, and
squash. The experience provided a great opportunity to host fun activities centered around the garden, food,
cooking and hygiene. The children were also taught the principles of nutrition and sustainable development. It’s
crucial for kids to learn about the importance of vegetables, including how they are grown, prepared, and cooked, as
well as how they taste and what nutritional value they provide.

The vegetable gardens also served as teaching tools during literacy lessons. The children learned the names of new
vegetables they weren’t very familiar with since they aren’t a part of their everyday diet. These included peppers,
celery, and leeks, among others.

The kids also visited a farm owned by a veterinarian. They learned about various types of farming, including large
and small livestock, fish farming, food crops, and fruit and vegetable gardens.

These underprivileged youths took an active part in the vegetables gardens provided by the OEuvres de Don Bosco
charity. They were involved in practically every step of the gardening process. The kids are proud to be able to
manage their gardens, produce their own vegetables, and learn how to cook them. They will work hard to make sure
the project continues to bear fruit!

– This project was supported by the Louis Bonduelle Foundation in its 2016 call for proposals –