In these last month’s our Regional Co-ordinator, Lydia Mongano, has begun focusing more locally and has been working with young people in Tshwane/Pretoria to inspire and awaken the Earth Keepers within them.
In September Lydia centred her work around Arbour week and visited several schools to plant trees with them and to pass on her passion for Creation and Earth Keeping.
Her first tree planting took place at the Bokgoni Technical High School where they planted Wild Olive and Karee trees, donated by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). But the idea was to plant more than trees that day and establish the first roots of the Earth Keeping movement and a new generation of Earth Keepers.
Lydia went on to visit a further 3 schools – Shalom Primary School, Thulaganyo Secondary School and Tumelong Haven Pre-school – where learners explored the different landscapes and soil types as they planted the indigenous shade trees that had been chosen. An encounter with earthworms led to a lesson in interconnectedness and the significance of even the smallest creatures in Creation.
Lydia also partook in the Rekopantse Primary School’s environmental campaign where students were asked to share their own environmental awareness and everyday experiences of negative environmental impacts through song, poetry and prayer.
Lydia’s own Earth Keeping journey began as a young child, so she is passionate about sharing her experiences with children and youth. She describes a childhood of playing outdoors and using the surrounding environment to play with: “We would use clay to make miniature herds of cattle or huts to imitate and reflect our household, community landscape designs and cultural norms,” she says. It was also at this time that she realised that eco-justice within communities was central to ensuring the social well-being of communities. She recounts this experience:
“There was a woman carrying her baby on her back in the heat of the day, digging and searching for water with a small bowl and bucket from a dry dam. We watched very closely what she was doing as we were hiding in the nearby shrubs. Her struggle moved me to ask myself why she had to travel all the way to search for water while many people had access to clean running water as a basic human right! I was not even a teenager at the time, to know such big terms as human rights but deep down inside, I could tell that what I saw was not dignified and just. Therefore, I was not at peace.”
This, together with her faith convictions, inspires her work and she lives by the statement: “You can’t change everyone but everyone can change someone’s life or something for the good of the environment.”
Lydia hopes to inspire Earth Keepers in all sectors of society and create a whole network across Pretoria and further afield.
“I strongly believe the environment serves as a basis (and sustenance) for all life on earth and it is possible to achieve the goal of creating a balanced and healthy environment along with a thriving economy for all, in our lifetime,” she says.
Here are the full stories of Lydia’s Earth Keeping and tree planting adventures: