After reading hundreds of essays, and narrowing them down to the best 10, the Land & Life Head Office team were really torn as to who to pick as the overall winner of the termly competition on Water Conservation.
Competition was stiff; but two essays stood out – one written by an individual pupil from Mwaroni Primary and the other by a group. Peter Oscar Otieno, a Grade 8 pupil from Mwaroni Primary, impressed us with his excellent command of English, clarity of thought and background knowledge. The runner up group was equally good, also showing a solid grasp of the concepts and good use of language and argument.
During our last WWP event at the school in May, Peter received a scientific calculator, a geometrical set, a backpack, a UN Certificate and a trophy to take home and display proudly. The group did not go home empty handed – they each received art supplies, individual certificates to acknowledge their individual effort and a trophy.
The biggest surprise came when Joab Andayi, the General Manager at Elewana AfroChic Diani, announced that the winners would be invited for lunch and a swim at Afrochic! True to his word, on the afternoon of Saturday 7th July 11 youngsters accompanied by 4 teachers were treated to a sumptuous meal and ice cream at Afrochic. To cap it all, they enjoyed a dip in the pool!
We take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to Joab for graciously arranging this memorable trip that the youngsters will remember for years to come, and we look forward to more fun and exciting activities between Afrochic and Mwaroni Primary School.
March 22nd saw the celebration world wide of UN World Water Day 2018. This year the theme was The Answer is in Nature – a principle with which we entirely agree! The concept explores how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century. Here in East Africa the problems of the world water crises are in evidence every single day, and affect both people and wildlife on a daily basis.
From the severe droughts experienced in recent years, to the heavy flooding in both remote and rural areas, the challenges run deep. Environmental damage, together with climate change, is driving the water-related crises we see around the world. Floods, drought and water pollution are all made worse by degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes. When we neglect our ecosystems, we make it harder to provide everyone with the water we need to survive and thrive.
Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to do so much more with ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.
These concepts are all ones we have explored this term with our Wildlife Warrior Clubs. During sessions in each school, our team has discussed the causes and impacts of flooding and drought, drought resilience and locally appropriate ways to manage and conserve water. At the end of each session, the children were set an essay relating to the theme, and given a few weeks to write and submit their entries.
We had some excellent entries from groups of children in Ura Gate Primary, Esiteti Primary and in Kachiuru Primary; we had individual entries from students in Mwaroni Primary and Esiteti Primary. The range of entries has been impressive and it has taken our team some time to work through all of them and choose ones which are worthy of special mention – so many of the essays were brilliantly written, demonstrating a remarkable grasp of the issues at hand. What was even more interesting was how much the children had understood and could discuss the issues and solutions relevant to their own local communities – ideas which we had hardly covered, but they were able to contribute from their own experience and ideas.
This month saw Mwaroni Primary School in Diani join the Wildlife Warrior Program for real. Steve and Millicent from Land & Life visited the school and had a meeting with the school committee and the staff. Once the discussion was completed, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed, ensuring both school and Land & Life are on the same page going forwards. These agreements help Land & Life to ensure that all donations received on behalf of the school are spent on worthwhile projects chosen in consultation with the school committee and the teachers. It is crucial to have these agreements, to make sure funds are spent wisely and transparently, and have maximum benefit for the whole community.
Once the admin was over, the fun could begin! Mwaroni already had its own internal wildlife and environmental club, and its members were thrilled to see further attention being paid to their interest area. With the addition of Class 7 and 8 students, the numbers of the club members increased dramatically. Steve and Millicent started the session, on Water Conservation and Drought Resilience, and screened a David Attenborough video as well. The students thoroughly enjoyed the day, and got involved in all aspects of the activities.
After the Wildlife Warrior Club session, the children sat down and immediately wrote their essays for the World Water Day essay competition – too eager to wait until they got home, they handed in their entries before Steve and Millicent even had time to pack up!
While we always enjoy holding these sessions, this one was a particular joy. The children were so incredibly excited, and it is great to be a part of something as exciting as bringing a new school on board. The future success of the Program here in Diani depends on a regular flow of donations to support the school infrastructure and the conservation education activities here. If you or someone you know has a particular interest in Diani and its locale, or simply would like to help these bright young students grow and learn, please do click here and make a contribution. We are grateful for every donation :)
Across Kenya the new year got underway with a raft of new Wildlife Warrior Club members taking part in their first sessions. At our existing schools Ura Gate, Ololomei, and Embiti Steve and Millicent from Land & Life dropped by for a day of fun activities, watching videos and playing games all focused on water conservation. Everyone had a good time and came up with some great ideas on drought resilience and water conservation, relevant to their own locations.
In an exciting development, this month we added Kachiuru Primary to the Wildlife Warrior Club network. Although we have had an existing relationship with this school for some time in terms of school infrastructural support we had not yet conducted any conservation activities. So we are delighted to announce 21 new Wildlife Warrior Club members from Kachiuru! They very much enjoyed their session and we look forward to developing this relationship further.
In the run up to World Water Day on March 22nd, all the schools are competing in a nationwide writing competition where students will be coming up with essays covering water conservation approaches and related ideas. The essays will be collected in and marked by the Land & Life team and a special expert in the field, and the winners will be announced around World Water Day itself.