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Young environmentalist working with schools to conserve environment

 Wanjira Kamau in one of Lake Naivasha clean-up exercises. [Courtesy]

It’s Saturday morning and Wanjira Kamau is excited about the day ahead.

As a school teacher, it is supposed to be her day off but she is heading to school d to meet some pupils for a very important task. 

When she steps out of her house, she finds the learners eagerly waiting for her at their early-agreed meeting point. 

The weather is chilly so they quickly board a vehicle and head towards the school, each carrying a small hoe, a water bottle and some snacks.

A few months before, before the school closed for the December holidays, Wanjira and the pupils had planted some trees in the school compound. Once in a while, the group meets at the school to inspect and weed the trees. 

Before the tree planting exercises in schools, Wanjira trains the students and teachers through sessions on the importance of environmental conservation, adding that they engage the students because they can easily monitor the growth of the trees.

“I have been engaging in numerous environmental initiatives such as tree planting, community sensitisation on waste management, proper disposal mechanisms, and clean-up efforts at River Mairaghushu and Lake Naivasha docking areas,” says Wanjira, who is also the President of The Rotary Club of Waridi in Naivasha. 

Wanjira has also been working with the county government and the national government in river clean-ups in an initiative dubbed Adopt-a-river, in collaboration with UNEP.

During this exercise, with the help of equipment from the government such as garbage collectors, excavators and lorries, she leads a team of community members to collect garbage from River Mairaghushu and Lake Naivasha.

This garbage is later sorted and she can pick plastics and glasses that she has been recycling to make artefacts such as home décor and utensils.

Eunistar Art is an initiative that Wanjira has been working with teenage mothers to recycle these waste materials mostly glass bottles into water glasses, while the plastics can be cut and turned into beautiful home decor.

“When I recycle the waste material, I look at it as a way of creating a source of livelihoods for the women, especially teenage mothers, that I envision to train on how to cut the bottles, make mats and eke a living,” she adds.

In another part of the country is another young person working with school students in environmental conservation and rehabilitation of water catchment areas.

Lamech Opiyo has been instilling environmental consciousness in almost 20,000 young children by working with over 15 primary and secondary schools through various concepts such as adopting a tree and nurturing tree nurseries.

Just like Wanjira, he has been teaching them climate literacy and environmental education, and according to him, this ensures that there is sustainability where the students become custodians of the trees they plant.

“We are not doing it for them, but we do it with them so they can get these skills,” says Opiyo, an environmentalist both by passion and profession, having studied environmental studies and community development. “This is a way of nurturing young conservationists at a young age.”

During the training sessions, the young children are taught environmental terminologies and are helped to apply the conservation knowledge that is passed onto them.

Inspired by The Hummingbird and the Late Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai from his early years, Opiyo has always been passionate about protecting the water catchment areas.

He has been leading a team of young men to grow plants along the rivers in Nairobi especially around Mathare and Muthurwa Primary schools as a way of sustainability.

“We first clean a small section of the river then plant bamboo trees to help conserve the riverbed, then there are others who do farming

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