Louise Eldridge and Joselyne Kirungi, Restless Development Team Leaders with International Citizen Service (ICS) in Uganda, write about how they used World Environment Day to highlight the vital issue of climate change in their local community…
I am always downhearted to hear the song ‘I bless the rains down in Africa….!’ by an American Rock band, Toto. ‘Where are the rains?’ I keep asking myself.
The ICS journey was started with the worst temperatures both during the day and night. We crave for the rain in Kayunga; with our clothes all socked in brown dirt, the dust is unbearable. Local farmers kept us hopeful that it would rain soon. Yes it did; but did the temperatures go low? Not at all.
Over the past few years, Uganda’s temperatures have increased and as ICS volunteers, we thought we could play a vital role in combating this, even with little or no resources. It all started with a casual discussion with Restless Development’s staff to celebrate the world environment day without cost implications. The idea was highly appreciated by the Kayunga District environment officers and NGOs who pledged to fully participate in the event celebrations and also solicit for tree seedlings from the National Forestry Authority. This lived experience of climate change obligated us to be active citizens by celebrating World Environment Day with over 100 students, community members and stakeholders at Muyallen High School on the 6th of June 2016.
ICS volunteers led climate change sessions and were joined by the community to plant several trees around the school and at the district headquarters. This unforgettable tree planting event was presided over by the District Environment Officer and Community Development Officer. Community members and other schools then collected their own trees for planting in their areas.
From this event, we learned that making a difference sometimes requires little or no resources. We urge young people who are passionate about climate change to use their local leaders as free resources or channels for making a difference in their communities.