Faith for Earth Initiative transforming Ongata Rongai through Eden’s Stewards Ministry.
By Rudolf Makhanu
A clean up organized by Eden’s Stewards jointly with UN Environment and Kajiado County Government to mark World Environment Day 2018 was the biggest and most successful clean up ever held in Kajiado County. Held on 9th June 2018, and attended by 360 participants (both young and old) the clean-up focused on collecting plastics in keeping with the theme “Beat Plastics Pollution”. Three tones of plastics were collected.
The event was in two parts, a clean-up on 9th June, and a green Sunday Service on 10th June 2018. Among the participants that joined the clean- up were Universities (Africa Nazarene University and Multi Media University), Beacon of Hope Hospital, Rongai Business community, 10 primary and secondary schools from within Ongata Rongai, and 4 churches. The main challenge with waste management in Ongata Rongai is inadequate bins, failure to timely collect filled bins by Kajiado County due to inadequate trucks and minimal manpower, and poor littering culture, where majority of vendors dispose litter in drainage systems. To address this challenge, the clean-up was structured to have a sensitization element. With UN Environments facilitation, fliers, role up banners and across the road banner were printed. Key messages ranged from the dangers single use plastics posse to the environment, marine life and human health, Sustainable Development Goals and on sustainable ways of managing waste, where the concept of wealth in waste was given prominence. The clean-up commenced at 9.00am, at Cleanshelf Supermarket. Introductory speeches were made by respective partners including a brief sermon by Reverend Ondachi that focused on Genesis 2: 15 where God tasked man to take care of the environment. This was followed by entertainment where a youth dancing group gave a performance. This was deliberate as talent development is one of the objectives of Eden’s Stewards. Instructions where then issued to guide the clean-up. A map of the area to be cleaned was displayed and ten teams formed to focus on respective sections. Tools were given to each team that included gloves, spades, gunny bags and rakes. Each team was assigned a team leader. Teams then selected members who were to be in charge of the respective roles that entailed issuing out fliers and sensitizing the public, taking photos, picking litter, and ferrying collected litter to the collection point. To ensure visiting teams did not have challenges tracing their way back, local members were included in such teams. Clean up end time was also agreed on, where all teams were to converge at Clean Shelf for debriefing. All went as per the plan. However, during debriefing it was realized that members of team number 4, and an 11 year old girl (Najum) of team number 5 could not be traced. Search teams were sent out to locate the missing members. Members of team 4 resurface 2 hours later, reason being, they had been detained by police while collecting plastics at Ongata Rongai Police Station. Najums case was more worrying, as she had not resurfaced 3 hours after end of clean up time. A report of missing person was lodged at the police station. She eventually emerged tired but with a big smile, dragging a gunny bag full of single use plastics. She had wandered off (two kilometres) from the clean-up area. Her passion for environment conservation is un-matched. Inspired by Eden’s Stewards clean -up programs, she later initiated monthly clean ups in her neighbourhood in Kandisi and has formed a group of 50 young boys and girls, aged between 6-12yrs assisted by her grandparents, that takes care of the environment. According to Najum, all she needs is gloves and gunny bags to collect litter and some refreshments for her team after monthly clean ups.
Green Sunday Service, held on 10th June 2018 was the first of its kind to be marked by Nairobi Chapel Ongata Rongai. Dr. Iyad Abu Moghli (Principal Advisor, Strategic Engagement with Faith-based Organizations) was chief guest. Other guests included top management of Kajiado County Government, Vice Chancellor of Africa Nazarene University and a representative from Tangaza University among others. A key highlight was when Dr. Abu Moghli quoted bible verses while stressing the need for active engagement by church and other FBOs towards enhanced realization of SDGs. The fact that he is a Muslim yet freely shared from the bible and enjoyed worship service touched many. His humility and ability to interact with all, endeared him to congregants and perhaps is the reason Eden’s Stewards ministry enjoys amazing support from the entire church. The event was crowned by an inspiring sermon by Reverend Ondachi and a speech by Dr.Bhebhe. A key resolution was the urgent need to hold monthly clean up events bringing on board key actors in Ongata Rongai as well as the need to mainstream environment conservation in church programs.
Edens Stewards Ministry, an initiative that arose out of the Faith For Earth Initiative is now a fully-fledged organization running environmental conservation programs with plastics wastes recycling as an upcoming project.