Faith for Earth Initiative stirs up environmental conservation in Ongata Rongai church

Faith for Earth Initiative stirs up environmental conservation in Ongata Rongai church by Rudolf Makhanu.

It was a wet noisy Saturday evening. Heavy rain had just ceased. An exhauster could be heard busy at work at a nearby apartment. A lonely strange truck stood at the middle of the church compound within Nairobi Chapel Ongata Rongai church, stuck after delivering red soil bought to make flowerbeds. Ashley, the church’s guard dog, could be heard barking softly, irked by the   irritating sound of the exhauster. Ms. Wangare Kiboi, a youthful official (Deputy Director) of Eden Stewards drove her white Vitz into the church compound and parked next to Rudolf Makhanu’s car. Rudolf, the director of Eden stewards had arrived twenty minutes early. He could be seen chatting with two ladies at the far end of the church compound, who were taking GPS coordinates of a Markhamia lutea tree. The first tree to be marked was an Alkeria, planted by Dr. Iyad Abumoghli, principal coordinator of the Faith for Earth Initiative. The two ladies, Patience Muboka and Beverly Rita had volunteered to take GPS coordinates of all the 350 tree seedlings recently planted in church by the Eden’s steward’s team. The purpose of the meeting that evening was to come up with solutions to minimize deaths of planted tree seedlings, initiate urban forestry project in Rongai and plan to host a cleanup in Kandisi, targeting teens. Wangare Kiboi warmly greeted Rudolf Makhanu and the two ladies. A white shuttle could be seen entering the gate. It parked next to the truck and five other officials of Eden’s Stewards alighted, and headed straight to Eden’s Stewards office block.

It was a quick meeting. Members that to deal with the challenge of donkeys and goats browsing the seedlings Sam the accountant would provide funds to Ms. Trudy who would secure the seedlings using posts and netting materials. It was also resolved that church members would adopt tree seedlings and be responsible for their survival. Always eager to take on challenges Erick Abuga, the Projects coordinator volunteered to get from Pastor Zaq the register of all church members. While still stressing the need for church members to adopt trees and tend them, Kiboi shared a story of how, the previous Sunday, a young girl had wept after a car drove over her mango tree seedling. She couldn’t stand the loss, having planted and tended the seedling over a month. On urban forestry Makhanu informed the team that a project proposal jointly developed with Africa Nazarene University had been presented to UN Environment, Africa Office. Loudly adjusting his chair, he further noted that he had booked an appointment with Ngong Municipality Manager to identify green zones set aside for tree planting in Ongata Rongai. Jane Kerubo, an interactive and jovial member of the team raised her hand and sought to know why a tree nursery should not be set up to raise enough seedlings, for beating up given the director already sourced some tree seeds from The World Agroforestry Center. From his facial expression it was obvious Harrison Talo, the IT Manager did not have an idea what beating up is.  The director quickly came to his aid and noted that beating up is replacing dead seedlings with new ones. Fidgeting with her phone a visibly restless Kiboi urged members to move to the next agenda item. At that moment, with a black bible in his left hand, pastor Zaq walked into the room, and warmly greeted the team. He was quickly updated on deliberations, after which he appreciated the team for dedication to conserving the environment. As he took a seat on the far left, he inquired from Makhanu whether the UN Environment, Africa office had given any feedback on the proposal submitted. Makhanu promised to update him after the meeting.

The last agenda item was an easy one. It entailed planning for a clean-up in Kandisi, Kajiado County that was scheduled on November 17, 2018. Erick Abuga, a skilful event planner gleefully presented the draft cleanup plan. He had travelled to Kandisi two days back to survey the area and consult with contact persons including Ms. Najum the young environmentalist. It emerged that 100 kids had confirmed participation and that gloves, refreshments and a public address systems were the main items needed. Eden members would assemble at Fatima Health Center and pick plastics along Kandisi road and meet the teens at Safaricom booster near the “killer bridge” for official flag off by the local Member of Parliament. Before Erick could finish speaking Sam, the accountant noted that the account did not have enough funds. Members sighed with relief when Pastor Zaq confirmed that the church would provide a Public Address system. Since it was getting dark members quickly agreed that all Eden’s members would contribute ksh.200.00 to purchase refreshments for the teens.

As members bowed for a closing prayer, Jane rose to her feet and sought to know why Kandisi had been selected for the clean-up. Rudolf Makhanu, in his characteristic calm voice explained that due to high human population and poor littering behaviour the area is heavily littered with single use plastics that are washed into river Kandisi when it rains. He noted that since the river drains into Nairobi National Park the plastics eventually pollute wetlands in the Park. He added that the park has a population of wetland dependant Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum gibbericeps) which is listed as Endangered in the 2012 IUCN Red Data List. Glancing at his watch he added that Kenya and Uganda holds three quarters of the world population of the species. Visibly excited, Talo, the IT guy sought to know how   wetlands pollution affects cranes. At this point the night guard walked into the room and requested to speak to Pastor Zaq. It was hurriedly agreed that during the clean-up, Makhanu would talk about the effects of plastics pollution on wetland dependant birds. Karey was the first to get into her car. She could be heard mumbling. Her car coughed once and went silent. The hard start issue of the Vitz was getting worse. “I am fine”, she shouted, as Makhanu went over to assist her. As darkness swallowed the rest of the members, Talo could be heard swearing never to buy a Vitz.




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