Name: Monique Amondi Oyoo
The Future I Want
My story began in Machakos County, Kenya. Three months ago I got an opportunity to volunteer with voluntary service oversees (VSO), an international programme which gives people in different countries a unique opportunity to work together with the local community to make sure people can earn a decent living, get good education, get information and services they need to stay healthy, live in a fairer world and protect their environment through developing and sharing valuable skills which eventually aid in making practical contributions where possible. I was accorded an opportunity to engage Green life Africa(GLA) an organization that champions environmental conservation from which I got my inspiration from activities they engaged in such as clean ups, tree planting, sensitization to the general public just to mention but a few.
BIRTH OF THE CRESTED CRANE
Where have the indigenous birds that we watched over the years as we grazed herds of cattle in the beautiful fields vanished to? Where are the beautiful cranes, guineas fowls, oyundi, kware, owls etc.? This question began bothering me and yes the answer was they had migrated to find new habitats and most of them are actually going instinct. For instance the population of the crested crane has declined from 35000 in the late 1980s to around 7,776 today according to country wide census done on the birds after two decades. The daily human activities like charcoal burning, clearing bushes for farming activities and sale of timber have destroyed the natural habitats overtime. Could I do anything to reverse this current state? VSO gave me a new skill set that ignited me to start on my own. I travelled back to Homabay county, my county of residence to “bring birds back home”, to restore the ground cover, improve the aesthetic value of our county and to stabilize the climate through tree planting.
CHOICE OF APPROACH TO MY SOLUTION
Whatever transpired through my childhood were the memories I was holding on to, the specific known rainy seasons that got the nearby rivers swelling, plenty harvests, variety of birds which lived in particular places had now migrated and this got me thinking. If I had not forgotten what I learnt and observed during my childhood, why not instill the values in children? Because for sure whatever you instill in them lives with them for a lifetime and there is a multiplier effect attached to it. I started by visiting a nearby primary school, shared my idea with the head teacher who really assimilated it.
I organized for the first a tree planting session that was conducted in Wanjawa primary school, Ndhiwa sub-county, in HomaBay County Kenya. This marked a launch on an initiative I call the Crested Crane whose main agenda is to conserve the environment. I mobilized for community volunteers and other likeminded people who could support my journey. Currently we have partnered with 9 schools in which we have formed environmental clubs whose members consist of an equal representation of the whole school in terms of numbers per class and gender. We have also worked with the environmental club members to set up tree nurseries in these schools instead of taking ready seedlings to them to give them an opportunity to learn sources of seeds and how to nurture trees nurseries from the initial stages all the way to transplanting and finally seeing them grow. This is to solve the narrative of those who might be willing to plant trees but cannot afford the seedlings and discourage the mentality of giving people fish instead of teaching them how to fish. It is the pupils who take care of the nurseries in their respective schools.
The most interesting and encouraging thing I have experienced is the support I have received from the 9 schools and the community members whom in various occasions ,I have approached with different ideas in regards to my initiative and I can gladly say that the humanity in a way is aware of the evident climatic changes . The local administration has played a great role in creating awareness on what I do, and have contributed to the positive reception of the initiative too. Environmental champions like miss environment HomaBay and individuals who are very passionate about conservation have also played a great role. The knowledge that the pupils already have, we are bridging the gap between knowledge and the actual practical knowledge on which we are positive that they will emulate back home.
I have had financial constraints on various issues mainly implementation of my first phase of activities for example facilitation fees for volunteers, Purchase of seeds, chemicals, tools and fertilizers, airtime for coordination of activities, Refreshments during the tree planting days. I also encountered individuals who associate what I do to personal gain. I lack technical knowledge in what I do and the eternal expertise that I choose to source for at times is very expensive. I also have had agronomic challenges for examples certain species can thrive in specific areas and getting other varieties are at times hard to get.
I really look forward to sharing my story with other likeminded persons and the world at large as well as being able to listen and learn from fellow youths for better understanding on various approaches towards nature solution, possible challenges and mitigations and gain of general knowledge on what happens in other parts of the world for a better tomorrow.
Plans: Formation of environmental clubs and sensitization of pupils in the club
Target: 9 clubs formed and sensitized
Plans: Preparation of tree nurseries, Purchase of commercial tree seeds, indigenous tree seeds and fruit seeds
Target: Purchase of the mentioned seeds in quantity that can produce at least 800 seedlings per schools
Plans: Transferring the seedlings into pots and tubes
Target: Transferring all the germinated seedlings into pots and tubes
Plans: Transplanting seedlings to targeted areas for planting
Target: Transplanting seedlings to targeted areas and giving each of the club two seedlings to carry home
VIDEOS AND PICTURES
Some of the videos and pictures of my past engagements are shown through the links below.