Green is ‘energy’, Green is ‘arrival’,
Green is ‘life’, Green is ‘survival’,
Green is ‘to create’, Green is ‘to nurture’,
Green is ‘to tender’, Green is ‘to shelter’,
Green is ‘to fertile a barren future’…
Green is the foundation of a conscious mind, a healthy inheritance and a habitat of sensitive humankind…
It amazes me to learn how people, even in the remotest of backgrounds, have so much to render, how they are adding value to their everyday life by being more aware and sensitive towards the environment, how their actions are reciprocating all the goodness they have received in life, how they are trying to preserve the imprints of human existence with whatever they can afford, how, with a deeper sense of individuality and self-realization, they are persistently working hard to make our Mother Earth sustainable. Today’s story is about a boy who stands firm for his strong affiliation with environment and he is determined to create a significant impact for generations to come.
In the remote interiors of Africa, Mpika is a district in Muchinga Province, Northern part of Zambia. With a population of 2,03,379 (CSO 2010), the inhabitants of Mpika heavily depend on farm products as well as cattle layering. Andozile Simwinga (I call him ‘Ando’ with all my love and affection), a 20-year-old boy, oldest in the family of four, living with a single parent, started taking keen interest in environment after he became a team leader in environmental affairs in his junior school. However, Ando drew major inspiration from his father, Hammarskjold Simwinga, a 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize Recipient for Africa, who helped fight wildlife poaching in Zambia by creating new economic opportunities in poverty-stricken villages. His father founded a NGO called ‘Wildlife Habitat Conservation’ and it operates in Mpika. Soon, his father’s vision became his vision, and he created small youth groups that addressed what both, the community and the environment, are endangered of.
“Since childhood, I wanted to study anything that connected me to the environment, I loved nature and everything that came along with it, my passion to speak for ‘voice-less’ trees kept me going. A motivation to speak and hear what other people say about the environment connected me to school extracurricular activities, such as, being part of school clubs, that discussed a lot on environmental issues. In my tenth grade, while I was in Mpika, UNICEF Zambia launched a youth initiative in all 10 provinces of Zambia. This child-led program began a search for young people who were interested in climate change issues, and the environment. I remember the night when I informed my father of this opportunity and we scribbled so many ideas describing me and the commitment I will put if I get selected as one of the UNICEF Zambia child ambassadors for my district. With much hope, after a few months, I was called upon. I attended their training and that helped me become an agent of change in my community.” – Andozile Simwinga
We all know that susceptibility to climate change is unavoidable, but measures can be taken and situation can be rectified. Although, for results to be evident, there is a long way to go. “The climatic condition in my region cannot be described as ‘stable’. It has certainly varied a lot due to different inputs and measures that individuals and the government has taken in the past and in current years. Farmers no longer produce health products, agricultural expansion has majorly contributed to the loss of forest in Zambia, given that, the economy of Zambia is agro- based with a large chunk of people practicing small scale farming. To enhance dialogue and understanding of sustainable agriculture among the farming community and population of Mpika; the targeted population needs to be sensitized. These interventions will aim at changing the perception of farmers on climate change and the general community” says, Ando.
As humans, what obligations do we hold towards Mother Earth, or Environment, or Humanity?
We hold an obligation to give back, to return all that we are consuming, to replenish all the we are depleting, to preserve all that is scarce, to replant all that we cut, to protect and safeguard all that is helping us sustain.
Are we, laden with greed, contributing our bit?
I was quite taken by Ando’s convictions, he seemed to me a ray of hope for many in his community. So, I asked him, how does he imagine an environment sensitive world to look like?
“Honestly, I am in a place where green is a prime color. I often ask myself this question but in an opposite way, and it has always been what if, the world was yellow and all these trees and forest had no green in them? What if, this world had no eye-opening people who cared for future generations? What if, the world stopped generating enough oxygen? What next? Seriously, I care for my community, I care for my country and I care for the entire world, and one of my happiest moments is being in a green forest or community where everyone is smiling and having a good time, that is how I imagine, a world environment sensitive world to look like.”
Ando reinstated, “It’s incredibly important to attach feelings and emotions when it comes to environment, because, Earth is home and we must protect it. Alongside, having a right attitude towards the environment, e.g. what you do, how you live, and how you think makes a huge difference. It governs our future. Lastly, making it a habit to plant one tree or two on every special day or occasion of our lives. Mentality will save our planet from the adverse impacts of climate change.”
I would also like to reserve some credit and admiration for global organizations like UNICEF. They play a huge role in igniting young minds, the ignition is so powerful, that, it holds a strength to further ignite zillion young minds. Ando’s association with United Nations has not only helped him reorganize his own thoughts, but also, build a wide perspective on environment and what possibly he could do to save it. Ando says, “My instincts whispered to me, ‘your destiny lies in this path’ and so, I kept walking and working hard to give meaning to my life and purpose to my community.”
Ando aims to run a foundation that will be self-sustaining, and that will change the face of Zambia completely, especially, in the energy sector. Five years from now, I hope that prototypes of this dream will be done.
(These journeys have been personally shared with me by our ‘Heroes’)
Know more about ‘Our Hero’ – Andozile Simwinga