Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Fighting for Climate Justice for the Marginalized

 He fights for the marginalized with a clear focus

Joseph Mururu from Kenya is a caravanite with a mission. He is going to Durban, South Africa to fight for climate Justice especially for the marginalized communities he is working with. Joseph who works with the Shape the Child Charity Foundation tells me passionately that for years now they have continued empower marginalized communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, ASAL, areas by capacity building them on issues of food security. Shape the Child Charity Foundation also works with orphans and Other Vulnerable Children. They also have education and health projects. 

The Marginalized

Their description of marginalized also includes empowering communities leaving in the slum areas. He tells me, ‘The slum areas are also marginalized. They lack social amenities that a lot of people take for granted.’ Shape the Child Charity Foundation works in Kibera the largest slum in Eastern and Southern Africa whose education levels are low compared to their counterparts in other parts  of the country. They also work in Turkana, Isiolo and Kajiado district. He tells me in no uncertain terms, ‘we are growing the list because the need is great.

A Child Who Got Help

‘He was only 9 years old and had a heart condition so bad that when the medical camps couldn’t take care of him we took upon ourselves to ensure he was fine. Today he is a healthy boy,’ Mururu tells me of a young man who had attended one of their medical camps a while ago. After seeing so many helpless  people with health care issues his organization decided to build a medical centre right in the middle of Kibera. They still hold medical camps for the slum and other marginalized communities. Joseph says, ‘At any given time we handle liver or heart or kidney conditions.’ It is at these camps that they let people know about the highly subsidized health care center they run. 

Of Health and Planting Trees

The children treated here at no cost are below 18 years old. Shape the child has also done the same with cases of handling lack of education for the orphans and OVCs they work with. It is this education program that saw them start a tree planting initiative that has now been taken up by 23 schools and counting in Kenya. This initiative is aptly named ‘Miti Shuleni’ which is Swahili for trees in schools. For nearly a year now, the schools have been getting tree seedlings and advice on how to ensure they are planted and taken care of in the right way. ‘It is important for us that the children learn about tree planting at an early age,’ he says of the initiative. He tells me that he thinks about mitigation and adaptation. 

To this end, Shape the Child is actively involved in awareness creation on issues of mitigation and adaptation in as far as climate change is concerned and especially in the marginalized areas. ‘We have taught them to do farming since these are largely pastoralist communities. ‘We had to work at changing their mindsets. We showed them there was an alternative, ‘he adds about the farming initiative. Joseph says together with his team, they have taught the communities how to farm sorghum, a crop that is drought resistant. In addition to that the farmers have now learned how to plant fruits like oranges, bananas and passion fruits which do well in their dry areas. ‘The women in these hardship areas have continued to encourage. It is times like this we know we have to fight for climate justice and especially now in Durban, ‘ he quips.

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