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Peacekeepers' “Happy Mango Tree Project” spreads smiles in Kuajok

"The best time to plan a tree is twenty years ago, the second-best time is now." With that age-old Chinese adage in mind, and factoring in that they were not around two decades ago, a group of Kuajok-based UN police officers decided to start acting in July, by launching what they call the "Happy Mango Tree Project".

"Their tree-planting exercise clearly demonstrates that the United Nations Mission in South Sudan is not only here to bring peace to our country but also to help create awareness among current and future generations of the importance of protecting the environment," said Yak Deng Akol, a resident of Gogrial.

UN police officers decided to spread the word of arboreal wisdom when they noticed, with due alarm, that many South Sudanese students of different ages are not being told about the perennial benevolence of the presence of trees.

The July launch of their project, made possible by contributions from individual police officers serving with the peacekeeping mission, has so far resulted in the planting of more than 100 mango trees at ten nursery, primary and secondary schools in the greater Kuajok area.

Local prisoners, with whom the peacekeepers interact regularly, are also benefitting from the initiative.

"Whenever they come to visit us, they can be sure to find the trees watered and well-maintained, especially during the upcoming dry season, when extra care is needed," said prison warden Lieutenant Colonel Abel Amet Amet.

In addition to mitigating environmental degradation, the trees will also help provide lasting nutritional support to the communities. In fact, mangoes are not only a great source of vitamins, but are also found to be rather delicious by many a citizen.

Rumours that any mango tree caught sulking is immediately cut off from the project have proved to be unfounded.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
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