On June 7, the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) engaged the Coastal community of Kenya on issues of human-wildlife conflict from a Laudato Si perspective through a radio program hosted by Rebecca Makeo at Radio Tumaini in Voi, Kenya.
Radio Tumaini is an initiative of Lwanga Communications headed by Rev. Fr Raphael Kanga from the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa. The station which is located in Voi Town provides a series of English and Kiswahili programs targeting multi-faith audience besides the Catholic community. Through this initiative, it champions for social justice, empowers the most vulnerable members of the community and strives towards safeguarding the environment and human dignity by promoting social-ecological justice.
The goal of the Radio Program was to bring an understanding on Integration of Spirituality and Environmental Conservation in a more local context through the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si, on Care for Our Common Home. One of the most important attributes of the encyclical is that it is addressed “to every person living on this planet” (Laudato Si 3). In addition, Pope Francis calls for universal solidarity in addressing critical social ecological problems facing the societies today (Laudato Si 14).
In the context of the Program, human wildlife conflict was the critical social-ecological problem facing Taita Taveta County especially the communities bordering the Tsavo National Park. As elaborated by Founding Executive Director Allen Ottaro, Christians were reminded to live a simple life and acknowledge the importance of caring for creation, seeking justice for the poor and committing to achieve an environmentally sustainable society.
From the Encyclical, community members were called to change their approach towards the coexistence between humanity and nature. This could be achieved through ecological conversion, which entails change of attitude to recognize the world as God’s gift to mankind. Ecological conversion is considered one of the most sustainable approaches to addressing ecological problems because it demonstrates a sense of consciousness that we are interdependently connected with other creatures.
Speaking on the urgent challenge to protect our common home, Allen urged Christians to seek sustainable solutions to environmental concerns within their local contexts. He encouraged young people to exercise simple, everyday gestures like wise use of domestic resources, proper disposal of waste, and wildlife conservation. These simple gestures contribute to the greater strategy of promoting social justice and halting environmental degradation.
The concerns and hopes for change in communities in social and ecological systems can be drawn from the daily life of the people through ongoing initiatives within the community, education and awareness and external support groups with sustainable projects.
CYNESA joins the Holy Father in encouraging young people to seek sustainable solutions to livelihood stability without destroying natural systems. CYNESA is also reaching out to more young people and actively engaging them in conservations projects within their local contexts.
Intern, CYNESA Secretariat, Nairobi, Kenya.