The Real Meaning of ‘Green’
The latest update from our intern, also cross-posted at “merry go round.”
After my hottest week in Machakos, it rained. Really rained. It started Sunday afternoon and it actually only stopped raining earlier today. Now there is heavy mud everywhere, or “ndaka” in Kikamba, which a man in the matatu told me I had collected lots of on my shoes .
Unfortunately the rain has come several weeks too late to save the crops. But a few weeks ago my family was able to harvest a massive sack of beans and some thumb-sized bananas from their shamba farm. Many of Jitegemee’s families are hit hard by the increasingly unpredictable rains so it was a good time to talk about protecting the environment with the students.
Two Saturdays ago, all of the primary school students came to the center. We talked about what the term environment means, the interdependent nature of ecosystems, and why it’s important to protect it. I tried hard to make it relevant to their lives. Not just “recycle used peanut butter jars and decorate them for fun” as my Google search had suggested. I wanted the students to understand that pollution and dwindling natural resources pose a serious threat for our generation. If we throw our litter on the ground, livestock/a small child could mistake it for food and choke on it. We could further pollute the water. Climate change affects the rains. We will eventually run out of fossil fuels.
With Jitegemee about to start the construction of a new, “green” center, we wanted the students to understand that it doesn’t mean it will be painted that color, as one primary school student suggested. The new building will have solar panels for electricity, a solar hot water heater for cooking, toilets that use little/no water, a roof designed to collect water, and a large shamba.
I organized 3 activities: an environmental scavenger hunt, the “taka taka challenge!” (just a rubbish pickup), and some typing and drawing activities on the computers. The kids excitedly ran around the center looking for the different things I had asked for. One group even found a turkey, which I didn’t think lived in Kenya, let alone Jitegemee’s grounds.