April 2011: Climate ambassadors join hands in cleaning Chawama football field
By Ambassador Kondwani Ngoma
If instilling hope in someone is a great thing then uniting to impart instant change is both great and thrilling.
That was the experience in Chawama compound when 13 Lusaka-based climate ambassadors joined hands with visiting volunteer journalist from UNICEF Denmark, Asgar Nedegaard to cleanup an open community playing ground on 15 April 2011.
The ground which is a communal place for children who are passionate about football was ravaged with littre and vegetable waste owing to the vegetable business predominant around the grounds. The grounds are used for playing football, volleyball, athletics, and also part of the grounds are used as a trading place of assorted merchandise whose packaging contributes to the litter.
It was crucial for the climate ambassadors to educate the young people on the importance of proper environmental management so as to ensure continued adherence to cleanliness after their departure. Climate Ambassador Adrian Mapulanga in his address to the crowd and scores of people who came to witness this rare event challenged them to think of the consequences of their actions.
“It is important to live in a clean environment not only because of climate change but also for the sake of our health. We can prevent diseases such as cholera if we adhere to principles that most people consider petty”, he said. The area usually experiences outbreaks of waterborne disease such as cholera during the rainy season.
Chawama residents express happiness after clean-up
Chawama Youth Sport Academy (CYSA) footballer Victor Mulenga expressed delight for the knowledge he had received from the climate ambassadors.
“To most of us the issues you raised were frowned upon or considered irrelevant but when you brought into context the diseases we usually witness such as cholera, my mind opened up to the facts,” the 15-year-old player added.
CYSA Head Coach Brighton Chongo echoed the sentiments from his player and stressed the need for continued advocacy on environmental management. “Most of the young people here come from homes where taking care of one’s surroundings is not a priority, it is evident even here where most of the waste is coming from the vegetable vendors who happen to be parents of some of my players. Fortunately, it is easy to change the mindset of the children and with such programmes we are hopeful of a healthy community,” he stressed.
Indeed tremendous strides are being made by partners across the board as witnessed by the presence of a representative from UNICEF Denmark who was pleased with what she witnessed in Chawama.
“In view of what you have achieved as climate ambassadors in Zambia, I am quite impressed and would like to see it done with our ambassadors in Denmark as well,” Karen Aaen-Nedegaard said.
The path ahead certainly bristles with obstacles and none of us should expect otherwise. The Chawama experience proved that when I tried to engage older people into the exercise they brushed me aside. Fortunately, the gains far out way the losses, and that fills me with hope. The passion exhibited by the young people in Chawama was sensational and I am certain it will be conveyed to others.
We, the Lusaka-based climate ambassadors, thank UNICEF for their continued support in giving us the opportunities to be a part of our local community development in environmental sustainability.