‘Going Green’ in Ang’iya, Kenya, Across Generations
Medical Mission Sisters in Ang’iya, Homa Bay County, Kenya, have been receiving good news recently. Firstly, Pius, who has sickle cell disease and has recently enrolled to learn at the Anna Dengel Education Centre along with his brother, received a wheelchair from a generous donor in Nairobi. This is already making life so much easier for him, his family and teachers. Then, a few weeks later, came news that the follow up project for young people living with HIV and their peers has been awarded a second grant by the Conrad N Hilton Fund for Sisters.
The proposed activities will build on the success of previous gatherings for young people in and around Ang’iya. Many of those living with HIV are full or partial orphans and, due to acute poverty, have limited scope for other recreational activity at home. They look forward very much to the ‘camps’ - as the gatherings are known locally. Last year, they approached Sister Rosemary Adhiambo with a request to learn more about climate change through future events. They aspire to become a new generation of ecological changemakers.
For this reason, the new activities have been designed to enable young people living with HIV and their peers to start learning about climate change and its impacts by signing up for the free UN Climate Change online courses. They will use their three proposed ‘camps’ to discuss staging photographic exhibitions to highlight the extent of local environmental damage within their communities and they will plant trees locally.
For some of the young people living with HIV in their late teens, who cannot continue in formal education, the project will also offer an opportunity to develop new skill sets, designed to improve their future prospects and help them to play a valued role in their communities. Whether demonstrating the benefits of cooking, using eco-friendly briquettes as clean fuel in a region where much harm is being caused to the environment by the widespread removal of trees for use as firewood, or training in a solar bakery, they will play a leading role in ‘going green.’
The bakery, where bread will be baked using a solar-powered oven, is currently under construction, thanks to the generous support of a baker in the Austrian Tyrol and Jugend Eine Welt in Vienna. It is a project being developed to assist a group of widows to generate household income. Sister Gaudencia Wanyonyi, who is managing the new activities, explains that the widows belong to a group, originally established by newly departed Sister Mien Liestra from The Netherlands. It meets fortnightly at MMS’ health facility. The project will be implemented in her memory. When the widows heard about this new solar opportunity, they danced and sang joyful songs in appreciation.
Since then, eight of the widows have been chosen to train in bread baking in Rongo Town, 12 kms away. Once established in the bakery, it is planned that the widows will pass on their skills in bread baking to young people living with HIV to show intergenerational support. The bakery is being built beside a busy road, chosen to attract many customers.
As you will see, the widows have already begun to plant saplings in and around Ang’iya. By joining hands with the global climate movement through our future activities, we, MMS, and our project beneficiaries in Ang’iya aim to rise up to the challenge of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres, at COP 27: “What did you do for our world - and for our planet - when you had the chance?” In what is a rather forgotten corner of East Africa, working across generations, we are making a promising start in addressing, locally, what is being called, “the central challenge of our century”.
Watch this space for updates on activities!