Greetings dear brothers and sisters.
Last month, I and my fellow CYNESA members, Allen and Anne from Kenya, and Tafara from Zimbabwe, had the opportunity to represent CYNESA in the Multi-faith Climate Convergence organized by Green Faith and Our Voices in Rome, Italy.
The CYNESA team met at Addis Ababa-Ethiopia to board a connection flight to Rome. Our trip was extremely perfect despite some flight delays. We arrived at Fiumicino Airport on Wednesday 27th June, at around 6am and thereafter, headed to Salesianum where all participants were to meet.
On that day of arrival, Allen and I had the opportunity to help put together the artistic work that was to be used for the march at St. Peter’s Square the following day. I was very lucky to be there as I had an opportunity to write one of the SWAHILI words (NISHATI MBADALA) on one of the banners we prepared; to me this was a joyful moment!
On the morning of 28th June, right after breakfast, we all gathered to prepare for the march at St. Peter’s Square with our banners written in different languages and a green leaf-like placard written a prayer on it. As for me, I had arrived there earlier to distribute the green leaves to people, so that when Pope would show up at the Basilica, we would lift up our green leaves, which would then make St. Peter’s square look green from an aerial view and as a sign of supporting his encyclical.
However, the work of distributing the green leaves was not as easy as I had thought. Some people thought we were selling them; others just ignored us, while others asked if we needed some help. Despite all these hardships, we kept on distributing the leaves. Since it was very hot and the leaves were free of charge, many people came to ask for them so that they could use them to cover their faces from the sun’s scorch. When the marching group arrived at St. Peter’s Square, almost all the people had the leaves; there were more than 1500 people, majority coming in groups from different parts of the world.
At 12 noon, Pope showed up at one of the top windows at St. Peter’s Square to give his Sunday blessings to the audience and thanksgiving to all groups present there. He also acknowledged our presence as people of different faiths coming together to fight climate change as well as to support his encyclical. This was one of the greatest achievements for the Climate Convergence of multi-faith in Rome and everyone was happy on the outcome of the day.
Moreover, when all of this was happening at St. Peter’s Square, some of us from the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) were collecting signatures for the petition calling for world leaders to precisely address climate change and drastically cut down carbon emission.
From Monday, 29th to Wednesday 1st, we had a Convergence at St. Egidio where different topics were presented. This was the time to hear the participants’ experiences on working with faith-based organizations. We also heard stories about leadership across different aspects like cultures, religions and regions. Our Executive Director Mr. Allen Ottaro was one of the leaders who explained how he came up with the idea of CYNESA up to where we are today and what the future plans for CYNESA in Africa are.
We further learnt about Climate science, policy and communication skills that widened my understanding especially on Climate Science. The research showed vivid examples of the effect of climate change. In the Far East, some of the islands will no longer exist in the coming five to ten years. This was proved by one of the participants from Fiji who sadly explained to us the extent to which they were affected by climate change. She was crying asking us if we can bring sand/soil to their country so as to prevent those islands from sinking. This was another lesson I learnt; that there are people out there in this world who are severely affected by climate change in a way that we can not see in our regions and everyone was very touched by this young lady from Fiji.
After the discussions in the auditorium, we split into smaller groups to have a plenary discussion on the topics presented. We learnt more from each individual concerning the topic. However, some of the matters were explained in detail during this plenary discussion. I never knew that there were “climate refugees” until I met this young lady from Fiji and she told me the world’s first climate change refugees are from Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati Islands both found in Pacific Ocean. Due to sea level rise, the land starts to disappear and that is why she had asked for the sand from us. I really felt very sorry for her and for the people living in those islands and for all people who have to flee due to the effects of climate change.
The Convergence was very successful. I extend my gratitude to the organizers for the huge preparations they made to make every participant feel comfortable. It was a great experience; people of different faith backgrounds and different cultures staying and eating together, sharing and singing together. To me that was indeed a blessing and I wish to have such a convergence in my country so as to keep that spirit within my community.
Last but not least much thanks to my Executive Director Mr. Allen Ottaro and the entire team for their efforts in making sure our role of Caring for God’s creations is highly fulfilled within and beyond our borders.
Desdery Moses, a Core Team Member of CYNESA Tanzania.