New Humanity Movement

Health: Person, Environment

Youth_CampaignUganda is a thriving and rich country: one of its major problems is the disposal of garbage and to educate its people regarding the environment. The Youths for a United World have launched a ‘Youth Campaign’ aimed at enhancing the awareness about the environment through practical projects. Armed with dustbins, bags and leaflets they manage to reach and involved many persons and institutions.

by "Youth for a United World" in Kampala-Uganda

Uganda is a small state situated between Kenya and Sudan: coffee, bananas and many other produce constitute the backbone of the economy. The country is also famous for its breath-taking views, the abundant natural resources, the mild climate and its fertile land due to the many lakes and rivers. It is said that whatever is planted in Uganda always sprouts.

The question is: how long will all this last? The high concentration of persons in the urban areas is affecting the beauty of the environment. Due to the widespread use of plastic and the indifference shown by the population regarding the disposal of the garbage, our cities are slowly changing their physiognomy.

Since November 2002, we, a group of young people, who live in Uganda and strive for universal brotherhood in this small corner of Africa, have put in motion a strategy to improve the cities of our country. We concluded that we needed to respond to this environmental problem, and starting from Kampala, the Capital city, we launched a campaign in favor of the conservation and protection of the environment.

The first phase consisted in an awareness campaign targeting the schools, the churches, the shopping malls and other public places, including the streets. More than 100 youths were purposely trained by qualified persons and thus they could provide useful and exact information.

Leaflets and stickers with the message ‘Decalogue of nature’ (the ten rules to be followed to protect the environment) found their way in many parts of the city. Soon many people, including government officials, started to ask who was behind this campaign. They were surprised to discover that the promoters were normal persons: young people with little funds, but with a great desire to change things, and that they want to do this by proposing a new model of relationships based on reciprocity.

At one point it was decided to clean the two dirtiest open markets in Kampala. At first the sellers were uncooperative: they though that this was some politically-sponsored move with a hidden agenda. At the end of the day, however, something started to change, and some of them started to give us a hand.

The second phase was the ‘Garbage bin’ campaign: more than 50 garbage bins were distributed in public places, and the population was informed and made aware of the problems attached to the disposal of the garbage.

The national television channel took up the story and the reportage ended by stating that, albeit slowly, people are changing their mentality.

We were surprised to realize that it doesn’t take much to bring about some change: the first step is to change our relationships, always open to the needs of the others. In 2009, during a meeting with the groups from Bushenyi, Mbarara, Masaka, Gulu, Kampala and Fortportal, together with other institutions and universities, we decided to launch the quality brand ‘Youth Campaign’ for the protection of the environment.

A Saturday was the day earmarked to clean Kinawataka, a very dirty area of the city. This is a shanty town in one of the suburbs of Kampala where cholera hits fiercely, especially during the rainy season. It is a densely populated area; those living there are extremely poor and they try anything just to survive, and at the same time they produce lots of garbage. The fact that the powers that be ignore all this only makes matters worst especially since the water and the food become often contaminated resulting in life-threatening illnesses. That area, therefore, being the symbol of our city’s problems, became top priority.

The cleaning involved at least 50 persons of all ages, all bonded with the common ideal of the universal brotherhood. The population of the area was continually made aware about the importance of keeping our environment clean, and asking them to join us in this endeavor. Even the local authorities started to show an interest in the campaign and they put a garbage-collecting truck at our disposal.

It is still necessary to go back there every two months to ensure that things are improving and to supply the residents with the necessary gear, like bins and bags. The local council is now doing its part in the collection and disposal of the garbage, and many residents are giving a helping hand too.

When we started we never thought that one day we will be cleaning a slum area. Yet, we confess that we are happy that we started doing it. The Gospel is really practical and modern, and things can be changed. The fact that the local population feels much part of the project shows this.

© Photo Copyright Cristoffercrusell, Creative Commons License
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