Great Big Green week (24 September – 2 October) inspires community action tackling climate change in the UK. But across the planet there are young people taking action and creating long term change; the benefits of which are already becoming clear.

The rural town of Matioli, Kenya normally receives heavy rain, but as more trees are cut down soil erosion led to increasingly poor harvests. Benson, a Compassion Centre director, worried constantly that his students were not getting enough to eat. A community that relied on farming was struggling, and Benson knew he could help fix it, but not alone.

As a young boy, Benson was an avid bird-watcher. His teacher told him once that birds needed trees to survive, and an advocate for tree planting was born. Since then, he’s learned about the benefits that trees can bring, not just to the birds, but to humans as well, and began to dream of ways he could use tree planting to improve the harvests.

“I was concerned with soil erosion, since poor soil leads to poor yield and poor nutrition,” Benson says. He decided to address the problem at its root cause – trees would reverse the effects of soil erosion. But he couldn’t plant enough alone.

Benson began to teach his young students about the benefits of planting trees. Among the children who took part in the training were Jimson and Gilbert. They heard Benson’s message about the importance of trees and recognised the truth from their own experience. “I heard what the teacher was saying, and I connected with it because my parents’ crop had struggled due to soil erosion,” says Jimson.

Ten-year-old Gilbert wanted to help however he could. He and his young friends started visiting the nursery as often as they could to water the seedlings. He is excited to take an active role saying, “I am happy to be taking care of God’s creation.”

Together Benson, Jimson, and Gilbert began to encourage more young people in the community to plant trees together. Jimson planted 300 trees at his home so far, and now he goes to his friends’ homes and plants trees there too.

As the young people of Matioli plant and nurture the young trees, they are also growing a shared passion for caring for the environment and improving the community. “We’re planting as many trees as possible!” Benson says.

The fields and yards in and around the town of Matioli are now filled with 53,076 trees planted by the community. Compassion Kenya started an initiative to plant one million trees countrywide, using the young people of Matioli as an example of what good stewards of the environment can accomplish together.

Benson prays the seeds he is planting will help the children of the community to grow up knowing how important it is to take care of their environment. “We have a mandate to manage God’s creation in a better way,” he says. “Taking care of God’s creation guarantees our own survival.”

The children are learning this too. They have felt the effects of soil erosion acutely, when there wasn’t enough to eat and a frustrated generation of farmers surrounded them. Planting trees is making a difference, and the children that are nurturing the trees are already seeing the results in their lifetime.

The community of Matioli will continue to plant trees and are an encouragement to other communities to do the same. As Benson examines the new seedlings recently planted by a group of schoolchildren, he is encouraged that these little seedlings are helping to grow a passion for caring for God’s creation too – the long-term benefits of which reaches farther than can be imagined.

To find out more about Compassion’s response to the global food crisis, or to donate to their food crisis appeal, visit or follow @CompassionUK on social media.

Steve Legg

Steve is a British speaker, author and founder of The Breakout Trust, a Christian mission organisation based in Littlehampton on the south coast of England. Since 1988 he has travelled the length and breadth of the UK and 30 countries overseas, covering a staggering 1.5 million miles on the road, using a crazy mix of comedy, trickery and mystery to communicate the Christian message to young and old. He has performed at top venues globally including NIA Birmingham, Wembley Arena and London’s Royal Albert Hall. Radio and TV appearances are in the hundreds. His passion is creative communication of the Christian faith through performances, books, DVD’s and other resources. The author of 17 books, these days when he’s not on the road, much of his time is spent on the groundbreaking men’s Christian lifestyle magazine, Sorted.

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