Meet the Youth Ambassador team!
“My grandmother who lives in the rural areas knows in her heart that climate change has happened.”
Nondumiso says, “Church leaders are difficult to convince. In church we don’t deal with the environment – they say that is only for scientists. But I know that climate change comes into every field of life. How can so many faith leaders be ignorant about climate change and say there is no such thing?”
Nondumiso lives in Ladysmith in Kwazulu-Natal and is a member of the Mahon Evangelical Church of Southern Africa (MECSA). She was a member of the land service club at school, has organised public debates and volunteered for the Red Cross.
Patrick comes from Limpopo. He was born in a Christian family in 1990. There was no school in the vicinity and, at the age of seven, he moved in with his grandfather who was a traditional healer. So he didn’t go to church. “I used to go with my granddad to the bush to look for roots. This is where my love of nature came. I asked why does he take everything, and thought you must only take what you need, not all of it.”
“I have gained courage. The whole world is concerned about climate change – we must work together & with SAFCEI we can make a difference.“
“ I organised a youth camp where we gave environmental input. You get a range of different responses – but it was a challenge to explain how this impacts on our lives. The school groups are easy – people are briefed about that, but with faith communities you have to talk about faith issues. If you talk about the environment they don’t know what you are talking about. The other day I had to talk to the church choir. Some come from the IT world – they can’t make the connection. Some come from economics - they only understand if you are talking about profit. The good part is at least one or two people understood what I was talking about.”
Tsepo has a National Diploma in Environmental Sciences at the Tshwane University of Technology , Pretoria. He has also volunteered at the Pretoria National Botanical Institute and at SANBI (Environmental Education Centre).
“Climate change is an ethical issue. This hadn’t dawned on me before COP17 . I was thinking from an economic perspective, but now I think it is more about equity.”
“ Part of my new understanding is that nature is a fundamental part of our existence. When I applied for SAFCEI, given my background with environmental economics , this wasn’t the case. It has been a learning curve for me with SAFCEI [...] I have gone through a transformation – my relationship with God and my understanding of God in the context economic and social justice ”
Phibion Makawurere is an assistant administrator at St Francis Church in Johannesburg. He holds a degree in economics.
“I am grateful for the opportunity. And for the ‘family’! I am comfortable – we are all trying to be examples for the future of our youth. SAFCEI has helped me a lot for my personal growth and passion for the environment.”
“I want to think about animals and plants as my brothers and sisters and in that way I won’t be abusive to nature. Also want to fight for human rights. I want to educate my peers – some of them just think the environment is a waste of time.”
“For me it was hard to get the message across. To my advantage we worked together through the faith secretariat, in Diakonia, helping get petitions signed. In the outside world it was very hard especially taking the petitions to college. The people said “SO What?….” Most of them didn’t know what COP was . You had to explain everything all at once it was hard…”
Maurine is also a volunteer for YMCA Durban. She has studied Public Relations Management at the Durban University of Technology.
“I was challenged by seeing the roles of local churches can play in taking on environmental issues. SO how healthy is my church? We need to be a mission church – this is the primary place where this happens. I will challenge my local church to be part of this action.“
“For me this is a journey of faith to challenge unjust structures… We need to put justice at the heart of faith – climate justice, social justice. That’s my journey.”
“We must do whatever it takes to protect the environment.”
“The youth meet on Friday evening. I received an ovation from the young people – and the second time around I presented to the whole congregation. They asked how faith fits in with the issue of Climate change.”
“ If you have a serious and important message it has to be said in a funny way. Humour helps!”
Victor lives in Pretoria and attends St Aidan’s Anglican Church in Johannesburg.