In the words of FLEAT graduate Sean Ukomba: “God gave us one earth. Imagine what will happen if every believer could be a steward” SAFCEI’s Faith Leaders Environmental Advocacy Training Programme (FLEAT) is building a network of faith leaders for change across Southern Africa. The second intake of 12 FLEAT faith leaders are participating in a week of training in Cape Town in May 2015. Although only a few months old the FLEAT programme is already empowering faith leaders to make a positive difference in their communities. Three Zimbabwean faith leaders from the first training in November 2014 have sent us their stories of environmental advocacy. We are excited that FLEAT is supporting faith leaders who work for environmental best practice and who speak against environmental injustices. Enjoy their stories which we believe you will find inspiring.
Clean Up Green Up by youth of the Greek Orthodox Church in Harare
Youth faith leader Angelic Molen wrote enthusiastically about the partnership between the youth team at the Greek Orthodox Church and an organisation called Youth Clean up Green. On Saturday 28th March they cleaned up the grounds of the Greencroft Shopping Centre in Harare. “That was a successful campaign since while we cleaned we managed to inform people about recycling plastics, papers and cans. We also told the people about the importance of composting organic waste since there were a lot of dumped vegetables around the market place.” Looking at the photos of the clean-up with the huge pile of refuse in black bags, it is clear that the youth had worked really hard. Angelic pointed out that while the clean-up itself had value, the interaction with people at the shopping centre about waste disposal raised the awareness of both the youth and the public about alternatives to dumping waste. The Clean-up Green team also distributed educational posters and bin liners for home use. Angelic ends her report with a strong expression of confidence and commitment: “I believe that one step at a time we will reach our destination.”
United Methodist Church leaders plant 500 trees for Christmas
Tendai Gurupira, the Coordinator, Ministry with Women, Children and Youth had hardly returned home from the November 2014
FLEAT training when she sourced more than 1500 seedling trees from the Nyaradzo Funeral Company. In keeping with her belief that we are God’s stewards who celebrate his creation by caring for it, Tendai is promoting tree planting as an active way of healing the environment. She uses tree planting opportunities to explain the implications of climate change to fellow Zimbabweans.
“On 13 December the first 500 seedling trees were planted by the resident Bishop E.K Nhiwatiwa and his cabinet, their spouses and all church leaders at Murewa Mission of The United Methodist Church. I gave an awareness talk on climate change to more than 500 pastors and delegates. All pastors and delegates present at the conference were given trees to take them home and plant in their communities.” The remaining 500 trees were given to pastors and delegates at a second climate change awareness conference held at the Old Mutare Mission on 20 December 2014, to plant in their own communities for Christmas. Ending off her report with the words “Let’s continue to be good Earth Keepers”, Tendai wrote that she will continue promoting tree planting in 2015.
Imagine if every believer could be a steward
Sean Innocent Ukomba of the Climate Impact Faith Alliance (CIFA) comes across as articulate and bursting with ideas and energy. He compiled a comprehensive report on FLEAT to share his learning and FLEAT inspired ideas for new environmental advocacy projects with the many congregations that CIFA interacts with. Highlights from his personal experience at FLEAT include: “One amazing truth and lesson that I caught from the Green Bishop was the fact that faith communities don’t just represent religious and spiritual people who convene for worship but are the portals through which God’s creation will be saved. A lot of times, we wait for someone else to bring change, yet that someone never turns up because we are those someones. I have learnt to do the little things I can even if no one else will join me. Change is contagious. When you start, trust me, someone someday will catch on.”
Not just a man of words but also of ideas, Sean has started a number of projects. Earth Keeper will share one with our readers in this article, but we encourage you to click here to read his safcei FLEAT update report. Adopt your Neighbourhood is an initiative started in 2014 in partnership with a number of local churches within the Mt Pleasant residential area of Harare. The idea is that together congregations adopt and care for their community spaces. Every second weekend congregation members get together in Mt Pleasant to remove trash, paint verges, fix potholes, plant trees and other stewardship pursuits. In Sean’s words: “God gave us one earth. It’s in our best interest to steward it well. Imagine what will happen if every believer could be a steward”
More about the FLEAT Programme.
From 4th to 8th May, a new intake of 12 faith leaders are participating in an introduction to SAFCEI and the FLEAT training bringing the total number of FLEAT graduates to 28. The faith leaders come from a diversity of faiths and from throughout the SADC including Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. All faiths are welcome. To date Methodists, Muslims, Anglicans, Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics and Presbyterians on the FLEAT programme are forming a network of faith leaders who work together to advocate for sustainable environmental best practice and who speak against environmental injustices in their own governments and regionally. SAFCEI facilitates their engagement by providing information and capacity building to strengthen their actions. The programme is coordinated by Liziwe McDaid, SAFCEI’s Energy and Climate Change programme coordinator.
Kim Kruyshaar for SAFCEI, May 2015
In an earlier article for SAFCEI’s Earth Keeper Newsletter, Muslim leader Mc Carthy Samalani from Malawi reported how the FLEAT programme enabled him to organise aid more effectively for Malawians who were literally swamped by the devastating January floods. Click here to read his story. fhttp://safcei.org/mc-carthy-samalani-an-island-in-a-flood/