It is my belief that networking and friends-rising are the major keys to expand one’s knowledge and understandings towards a particular subject. CYNESA has given that opportunity to most of its members through attending different conferences, workshops, seminars, meetings and so forth where they meet people from different backgrounds and expertise to discuss, engage and share their knowledge on specific issues as per that gathering such as climate change. As faith-based organizations, our discussions and concerns are grounded from the faith perspective through teachings from our faith leaders and from the sacred books too.
In this year’s world environment day, I got an invitation from Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) under their program called Faith Leaders’ Environmental Advocacy Programme (FLEAT) which I am a participant in, to join them and attend the event in Same district, Tanzania. A faith-based organization called Hope for Tanzania hosted us for this event in Same and this organization is led by Rev. Mrutu who is also a beneficiary of a FLEAT program.
The event took place at Makasa Parish which is located in the mountain about two hours’ drive from Same. The road to Makasa Parish is narrow and thank God we never had another car climbing down. The driver was quite familiar with the road and finally we arrived at Makasa Parish at around 10am for our first day on 6 June. It was very cold and windy but the environment was greenish and quite impressive with natural forest and the surrounding air was so pure despite the fact that it was cold we really enjoyed the Makasa environment. We had a very good welcome from the parishioners of Makasa Parish who seem to live together as relatives from one family; you can rarely notice their differences. Rev. Mrutu is not the first Reverend in that Makasa Parish. He started his duties in Makasa since January 2018.
He took us through his Parish’ surroundings and gave us an overview of his Parish. Makasa village is not yet connected to electricity from the grid. Many houses including the Parish are using renewable sources of energy, solar power. In the parish they use solar energy for light, charging phones as well as for the music system which comprises keyboard, guitar, microphones and speakers but they use charcoal for cooking. Trees are chopped down next to the parish to use as charcoal for cooking.
In the afternoon we gathered in the church because they did not have any other hall for the program so we used the church as the venue and we had a number of 150 youth from Makasa Village and others came from the nearby parishes. In his opening remarks, Rev. Mrutu talked about the 2018 theme for World Environment Day in Tanzania which was “Mkaa ni gharama, Tumia nishati mbadala” which means “Charcoal is expensive, Use alternative source of energy” but he also shed some light on “Beat Plastic Pollution” which is the theme for 2018 world environment day given out by United Nation. Rev. Mrutu invited me to present my topic about faith, environment and wildlife conservation. I started by sharing my experience in working with CYNESA, how I participated in the FLEAT as examples of how I became involved in environmental work. I told them that we, as young people, have energy and if we can use this energy positively and transform this energy by protecting God’s creation we will make mother earth proud and earth will become a nice place to live for our generation and the next generation.
Giving them an example of their own surrounding environment and challenged them to head back in their parishes and asked their parishioners that if our forefathers and grandfathers did not use their energy to protect and taking a good care of this environment, how come we are not doing the same today? A moment of silence prevailed and one participant asked whether cutting down a tree is a sin or not? Rev. Mrutu, stood up and responded to the question by giving him a clarification based on Bible teachings from the book of Genesis but he also pointed out scientific reasons why trees are important in our life, because of trees we get rainfall and trees are also the major source of carbon sink.
Proceeding with my topic, we then discussed wildlife conservation and the role of young people towards wildlife protection. We realized that there is a huge gap of environmental education and I asked Rev. Mrutu and other invited reverends to make it a habit of speaking about environmental issues in their sermons because if they don’t pass this knowledge to their parishioners there is great danger of losing the natural forest that they have. They should also encourage them to plant more trees because they cut down trees for charcoal for cooking and building materials. I mentioned that these trees needs to be replaced otherwise they will end up in desert.
I also managed to do a basic energy audit to understand why the solar panel they have installed is not creating sufficient electricity for the use of electricity of the parish. It was my recommendation that the voltage of the equipment was too high for the small solar panel installed. This will be an ongoing discussion with SAFCEI about how best we can assist them.
By Desdery Moses, CYNESA Tanzania.