The Faith Leader Environmental Advocacy Training (FLEAT) is aimed at equipping faith leaders with the necessary skills to make positive changes in their communities. SAFCEI believes that people of faith have both a moral imperative and a special platform from which to speak out against socio-ecological injustices that face Africa. Through networking, advocacy training and sharing their experiences with each other, FLEAT aims to build a platform of common action of faith leaders across Southern Africa.
In 2014 and 2015 SAFCEI ran four intensive workshops in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe where the FLEAT members become a close-knit network of enthusiastic and motivated change-makers.
In 2016 SAFCEI ran a series of evaluation workshops where the impact of the FLEAT trainings were assessed. Members were asked to identify and present to interested communities in their district who wanted support on environmental learning and to whom they could pass on what they had learnt through FLEAT.
Follow these links to FLEAT stories:
FLEAT on Good Morning Malawi (video)
FLEAT in Malawi 2016 (short article)
FLEAT moves into the next phase (newsletter article)
CYNESA hosts Faith Leader Environmental Advocacy Training_Kenya-Sept-2016 (report back from FLEAT for CYNESA)
FLEAT in Kenya 2016_Liz McDaid reports back (short article)
Waste Management Presentation given by Tendai Gurupira (presentation)
Marking World Wildlife Day in Mombasa (article)
Greening Harare Porject, Zimbabwe. (snippet)
Waste Management at Murewa Central Primary School, Zimbabwe (snippet)
FLEAT projects inspire stewardship (article)
McCarthySamalani – An Island in a Flood, Malawi (article)
What FLEAT Does to a Young African Believer CYNESA, Kenya (Report/Reflection about FLEAT)
FLEAT Poem by David Munene Kenya (poem)
Meet the FLEAT team and read about what motivated them to join this programme:
“In order to have a future for our nation and our children, now is the time to set a new and positive direction for our national policies such as environment, land, energy and a comprehensive…climate change policy for Zimbabwe. We need energy systems that provide clean, renewable and reliable energy that does not threaten health or the environment.”
Rev. Blessing Shambare is an Anglican who is from Zimbabwe. He has served in several parishes and is currently a Theology and Missiology lecturer and tutor at the Anglican Theological Seminary. He is the Diocesan Canon Missioner and oversees the Healing Ministry of the Church. He works with the Environment Desk which oversees the Safeguarding of a Sustainable environment. He is also actively involved with the Advocacy Desk which serves the Diocese on matters of Social Justice and Transformative Action.
“The Christian Bible is clear on the charge to conserve and care for the environment…I am convinced that a better environment is possible when faith based institutions and faith practitioners become the anchor in the safeguarding [of the environment] and [in] influencing behaviour change to the whole concept of environment.”
Allen Ottaro is a Catholic from Kenya. He founded the MAGiS Kenya program, a young adult ministry that connects the Catholic faith with social justice concerns. He then went on to initiate the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) with colleagues from MAGiS, of which he is the Executive Director.
“After re-discovering my faith in my early twenties, Catholic Social Teaching helped me to see clearly the links between my faith and social justice concerns. Gradually, my passion to engage my faith in caring for creation became intense and more concrete in setting up CYNESA…My participation in FLEAT will equip me to develop solid advocacy programs for CYNESA, which are youth-led and driven, but rooted in the experience and wisdom of our elders.”
“The basic principle of life is about sustaining itself and this itself undergoes the cycle of birth, growth, death and birth. It is cyclic. We as human beings are part of this living system hence the choices we make, the actions we [take] and even the thoughts we create play a huge role in creating and affecting the environment…I wish to be educated through FLEAT so as to teach the people to begin to re-asses their vision and relationship with the environment.”
“The church has a responsibility to demand a call for responsible investment that takes care of the land and environment. Private corporations need not pursue profit with disregard to the destruction caused to land and the environment. The church; (you and I); has a moral obligation to make sure that leadership is remoralised in pursuit of a moral transformation so that the Church’s Social Teachings are practised both in faith and in our daily living in homes and communities.”
“I am a Zimbabwean proud of our culture, tradition and music, but today [I] am not proud of my country’s environment!
The Government of Zimbabwe, private companies, non-governmental organisations and ordinary and like-minded Zimbabwean defenders of the environment need a serious and concerted effort to stem the degradation of the environment in all its facets. The function of advocacy is critical to help arrest this disastrous process…I am dedicated to be involved with a movement that will help arrest the degradation of Zimbabwe’s environment.”
“[I]n Islam the environment is sacred and has an intrinsic value. It’s incumbent on us to look after natural resources, protect animals and plants and, more generally, improve and develop the environment. As the vicegerent of God, we have to channel the mercy of God to everything within our reach.”
“The church is the biggest community that has got broad influence on people hence I believe that we as faith leaders are the best in advocating for the environment…there is [a] need to put mechanisms in place to protect the earth. These mechanisms can only be put in place if people are trained or educated.”
“It is important for me as a Christian to care for God’s creation, according to the Bible in Genesis 1 verse 5-30. People were given the power to care for God’s creation. I believe I am responsible for God’s creation because God granted me stewardship of creation and I should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect to the natural world.”
Innocent Ukomba is a Zimbabwean from the Christian faith. He has founded several initiatives, among them CIFA, a movement that works with churches in addressing climate change.
“Climate change is a huge and monstrous challenge that requires passion driven and well-coordinated efforts if it will be stuck down. Amazingly, small actions driven by many people can generate a commensurate level of impact to address and mitigate climate change…the church is a single machine that has an unimaginable power to address climate change and all related matters.”
“I am a well-engaged leader who strongly believes in community development. I am currently working on developing a model for public theology in Zimbabwe; this together with my passion is aimed at making a difference in the community at large and also [in the] community of faith.”
McCarthy Jailosi Samalani is a Muslim from Malawi. He works as a Program Manager for Health at the Islamic Organisation for Health and Development (ISOHEDE) and is a facilitator, champion and an advocate in his community. During the January 2015 Malawi floods he went to the affected areas and lobbied for support for those affected. He was chosen to attend the Emerging Leaders Multi-Faith Climate Convergence that took place in Rome on 27th June – 1 July 2015.
“I am inspired and driven by surah 6(Al-anam) verse 165 in which Allah said “We appointed you people as viceroys of the earth…The lessons gained from [FLEAT] will be used back home in Malawi and the following are what I plan in order to implement the skills attained: conducting advocacy meetings with religious leaders, holding interface forums, raising community awareness, conducting training sessions and using media among others.”
“I am a firm believer…that everything that is on this earth was to show God’s beauty to our lives and that it is my responsibility to keep it as beautiful as it can possibly be. God has given me a gift of being able to relate with people of any age group and culture. I have worked with various organisations that deal with people and various issues that affect our society…[FLEAT] will give me knowledge that I will be able to use and educate communities around me.”
Ndivile Mokoena, a Catholic from South Africa, volunteers on Justice and Peace, a ministry in the Catholic Church which, amongst other things, does environmental work in the community. She is also part of the Women in Energy & Climate Change Forum and attended both COP17 and COP18.
“The FLEAT programme will enable me to help our [Justice and Peace] group expand our programmes on environment to other community entities; run awareness campaigns effectively especially in areas around mine dumps in Soweto. This training will definitely empower me and the group to help women in our community and church, as we are currently encouraging them to form cooperative focusing on environmental entrepreneurship.”
Sthembile Sibiya, a Christian from South Africa, works for the KwaZulu Regional Christian Council (KRCC) and has been assisting in the Disaster and Risk Reduction Project which involves educating communities on climate change and environmental justice.
“Besides the issue of mining our area has a shortage of water and well known dams are getting drier by the day. The people affected by these issues are people affiliated with our organisation. [Through FLEAT] I can gain skills as to how [I can] assist them in advocating for environmental justice with churches and schools as well as the community at large to make sure that they take part in protecting their own environment and natural resources.”
Agnes Shikabi from Zambia is the Country Director (Zambia) for the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA).
“I come from a low-income community where the majority of people have no formal education and consequently few or no individuals have taken an interest in environmental related issues like pollution, deforestation or charcoal burning. Having had an opportunity to attend [FLEAT], I see lots of room in me to go back to my community and bring awareness of their environment degrading processes and how it affects them in the long run.”
Rev. Felicidade Chirinda, a Presbyterian from Mozambique has been involved in tree planting initiatives and workshops on climate change with young people and women. She is the Executive Director for Scripture Union and the founder and coordinator for Wansati Pfuka Association, meaning “Woman Arise”. She teaches Practical Theology and is an activist for peace in Mozambique.
“[I have been made] aware that people need to be spiritually, ethically and morally educated on environment protection. They also need to be helped on how to live in a sustainable way so as to maintain an ecologically balanced eco-system.”
Lilian Samson, a Roman Catholic from Tanzania, is also working with CYNESA in the Tanzanian branch. She educates youth on environmental law and environmental conservation, as well as being part of organising activities around the protection of the environment.
“As a leader I am responsible to make sure sustainable development is attained to some extent in my society, through the knowledge and skills provided by the [FLEAT] training.”
“Climate change and environmental degradation is a reality in Tanzania. The country has witnessed several things which prove this state of affairs, such as irregular rainfall and sometimes complete drought in some seasons. To combat the problem all stakeholders in the country must take part. Faith leaders, whom I meet regularly and influence in the country, are very important [in] this case.”
“I have the passion to be an Eco-Preacher…I will vigorously advocate for the conservation of the environment especially in faith groups and the youths who constitute a larger percentage of our population. Currently I am working with several youth groups and different communities in the area of water and electricity auditing, waste management, afforestation and land management.”
Rev. Elisa Mrutu from Tanzania is a Lutheran. He is the Managing Director of Hope for Tanzania, is working towards a PhD in Development Studies and preaches at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Same Diocese. He is a member of the Climate Change Network in Tanzania, Civil Society in Tanzania, Renewable Energy Africa and Green Directory Africa.
“In all religions whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu or African traditional religion all know that the world was created by God and God gave us the environment so we [are] supposed to protect the environment in order to live better lives…[It] is the responsibility of the religious or faith based organisation to make sure they [do] advocacy [for] and protect the environment [as] religious leaders…are so influential.”
Sheikh Ismail Hamdan Muhammad is from Malawi and preaches at the Zomba Islamic Centre where he tries to link care for the environment with Islamic teachings. He was chosen to attend the Emerging Leaders Multi-Faith Climate Convergence that took place in Rome on 27th June – 1 July 2015.
“I am a chairperson of the Zomba Islamic Environment Committee, a grouping which looks [at the] protection of environment and enhancing tree planting initiatives at district level. I have a desire to participate in Faith Leaders Environment Advocacy Training with SAFCEI for the following reasons: To advance my knowledge on preaching and raising awareness in regard to [the] environment, to get and share experiences on effective and efficient ways of protecting [the] environment and restoring creation.”
Rev. Ishanesu Gusha is an Anglican from Zimbabwe who has been very active in getting environmentalism on the agenda at the diocese of Harare. He has been involved in tree planting initiatives, clean-up campaigns and advocating for green church clubs. He is also the Executive Director of the Southern African Interfaith and Peace Academy (SAIPA).
“The subject of environment is of paramount importance to me as a clergyman serving in the church of God. For many years the faith communities have ignored environmental issues and left them to non-governmental organisations. However, in the Anglican Church we have realised that mission is incomplete without addressing environmental issues, hence our fifth mark of mission reads: safeguarding the integrity of creation. It is within this context that I have developed [a] passion for…environment work and in the diocese I am working with the chaplain of the environment desk.”
Kelly Ngeti is from Kenya and a Catholic who is involved in developing a tree-planting project. He has been a youth leader in several capacities – also on a national level, being part of MAGiS – as well as a community leader. He is a core member and coast region coordinator for the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA).
“Environmental protection is one thing I have realised we have no choice but to be involved in as it’s also a command from God…[FLEAT] will be put into use in approaching government systems to continuously be conscious of the environment, pointing out what they are doing wrong [and to] continuously disseminate environmentally friendly messages and activities to the public.”
Andrew Gwambe is a Baptist who hails from Malawi and is the Programme Manager for the Baptist Development Service. He has done much work in sustainable farming and served as a member on the Organic Farming National Task Force.
“My village was surrounded by small hills and beautiful trees and grass. There was a perennial river across the middle of the village. Trees were in large numbers and the soils were fertile and produced bumper crops. I learnt to appreciate the environment and developed [a] passion for nature.
I will use my position…as a platform to reach out to many faith leaders and communities. Youth and women groups shall be targeted to become change ambassadors while faith leaders shall become change makers.”
Rev. Amos Kamugisha Mushendwa is a Christian pastor from Kenya; he is the Regional Secretary for the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF). His work with youth and communities has taken him to many countries and brought him into contact with many international and ecumenical organisations.
“We have to rediscover the African Theology where our fathers and forefathers linked [the] environment with God’s presence…they believed that God was present in trees, water, rivers, lakes, sea, mountains, food, so they highly respected where God lived. To me this is a very positive faith if given meaning and explanations, you see when the next generations thought they were educated and civilised they abandoned this philosophy. Destruction started and God ran away from trees cut, rivers destructed; that is why we are suffering. We need to bring God back to his presence for the life to be enjoyable as God intended during creation.”
“This [is] a call for all religious groupings and non-faith based organisations to unite for the redemption of our environment, because any destruction to the environment affects everyone. The motivation is my long time passion of wanting to see an environment free from abuse. I know God to be the first environmentalist who has ever existed especially when I read Creation theology.”
David Munene is from Kenya and is Catholic; he is the Programmes Manager at the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability (CYNESA) in Kenya. At the moment he is working to develop a climate change toolkit informed by science, Ignatian Spirituality and Catholic social teaching for youth in Jesuit institutions.
“I am convinced that my participation at FLEAT will assist me in developing a larger network with a more global reach that will help promote environmental advocacy from a leadership, yet youthful, perspective. The development of such networking and advocacy is aligned with [CYNESA’s] objectives to ensure that environmental justice is achieved by different organisations and individuals that journey towards this course.
I will also use my passion for poetry to encourage members of my poetry group to enter into conversations on environmental advocacy.”