Pastor riding from South Africa to Meru to push for action against climate change

Rider, Pastor Sammy Kiumbe. 

A pastor, riding a motorcycle, is on a journey from Johannesburg in South Africa to Meru County as he seeks to raise awareness about the negative effects of climate change on children.

Through his mission, Sammy Kiumbe also wants to push for inclusion in mitigation efforts against climate change. 

He said he wants to create awareness of the effects of climate change on the survival of children.

Kiumbe started his journey on Monday and will be covering 5,500km across several countries, through to Nairobi and arriving in Meru on October 6.

During the journey, he will be advocating for climate action for the sake of children’s education, health and other issues in their growth and development.

Kiumbe seeks to highlight the plight of children whose lives have been adversely affected by climate change, including their academics and health.

A seasoned biker, Kiumbe says he loves adventure riding. He said he has travelled through many towns and villages and has witnessed the adverse effects of climate change and how it has impacted communities.

"I am concerned that children, a vulnerable group in our communities, have borne the brunt of the harsh climate," Kiumbe said.

He added: “I ride first to connect with God and nature. Nature allows me to relax because it is a God-given gift to humanity. I have been concerned because when I am riding around, I notice that different regions that were greener are becoming drier and drier.”

Through the journey, Kiumbe hopes to inspire people to plant trees and participate in other climate change mitigation actions, for the sake of children.

“I chose to ride a bike in this campaign to catch the attention of people, create awareness and a call for action for everyone,” he said.

Raising awareness of the negative impact of climate change on children’s lives is an initiative of Ripples International, a Meru-based child rights and community development NGO.

The organisation runs a home for girls rescued from abuse. The initiative has sponsored the education of several children in Meru, Samburu, Tharaka Nithi, and Marsabit.

Ripples International’s directors, John Baidoo and Mercy Chidi-Baidoo, said climate change has become a major threat to children’s education, nutrition, and other areas of development, hence the need to draw the attention of people to the matter, which they are doing through Kiumbe’s awareness drive.

“Every day he rides, we are planting trees, and doing community sensitization and training children. We are also pushing to have children brought to the table in the discussions around climate action because they are our future leaders. We need to hear their suggestions on how best we can go over this matter,” Ms Chidi-Baidoo.

"Protecting the environment is one of our core values. We all have a duty to advocate for climate action and ensure children are included in the conversation." 

“Climate is not just an environmental matter. It is a human rights issue. We have many children now who are not going to school because of the effects of climate change. We do school feeding programmes in many schools because of consistent drought that has ensured there is insufficient food. Meru is one of the leading counties when it comes to the number of children getting pregnant. Some of the girls, as they look for food, have ended up in prostitution...they have been taken advantage of and we can all see the results.”

Mr Baidoo said there was a need for action to mitigate climate change as it had negatively affected the growth and development of children.

“Women and children are badly affected because they are the ones who are forced to trek long distances to look for water. On their way, they meet many challenges. There is transactional sex and gender-based violence that affects women and girls. All we are saying is that a little action will go a long way to help the planet,” Baidoo said.

The journey is expected to take Kiumbe about ten days from South Africa to Meru. 

Ripples International has brought together 20 schools where each child is expected to participate in planting in support of Kilumbe's campaign. In the end, the drive expects to plant 20,000 trees.

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