By Alice Kemunto of Nairobi, Kenya
I always wanted to recreate my childhood experience, and I was so passionate about it.
With or without mentorship or scholarships, I made it a personal initiative to further my studies on issues pertaining to the environment. With zeal, courage, and determination, I decided to pursue my dreams through grassroots campaigning and influencing my sphere.
In the process of searching for more information online, I landed on Laudato Si’ Animator training to further my knowledge and understanding of the neglected Mother Nature.
Laudato Si’ Animator training left a permanent mark on my life by helping me undergo my ecological conversion, which prompted me to involve my children and other young people in living Laudato Si’.
Sharing a platform with committed and experienced people in the environment was humbling and left me thirsting for more.
I can always buy myself clean water. What about the wildlife at Nairobi National Park? Do they have someone who supplies them clean, treated water?
Oh, no. Don’t tell me they consume the sewage and the plastic dumped along Mbagathi River. How do they survive now that we brag that they are one of our main sources of foreign income? Do the tourists enjoy the view of our animals, or do they find every reason to laugh at how uncaring we are?
These are the questions that bothered my mind and provoked me to take up Mbagathi River clean up as my capstone project.
I took this opportunity to involve my community. I intentionally involved the youth and children, understanding that if I die without passing on this passion to them, then everything I have also worked hard for and fought for will be buried with me.
One thing I learned is that our youths are willing to stand and fight for a clean river. The only thing they lack is mentorship and someone to provoke the possibility of massive transformation in them.
Before graduating from Laudato Si’ Animator training, we were asked to present an object to sum up the whole journey.
I asked my daughter to draw a picture of what she feels can better explain the state of Mbagathi River and the informal settlement near the river.
I was shocked to learn that the story of George Floyd inspired her more to draw a picture of children and trees in a plastic bottle saying they can’t breathe.
A true reflection on the state of Kenyan rivers is that they cannot breathe, thus, calling on us to act towards restoring them to their former glory.
Alice Kemunto is a Laudato Si’ Animator caring for creation in Nairobi, Kenya.