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Hailing from Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater body in Africa, 13 years old Rahmina Paulette decided to use her passion, beauty and talent to address the challenge of water hyacinth.

Rahmina receiving the Green Kids Award 2018 from Jim Nyamu, Elephant Neighbor’s Center executive director, alongside environmentalist Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti.

“Since I was a little girl, my friends and I loved playing around Lake Victoria.  Unfortunately, these plants, whose name l later came to know as water hyacinth, abruptly changed the beautiful scenery of the lake and we could no longer visit our usual spot to play,” Rahmina Paulette.

Water hyacinth menace in Lake Victoria.

Water hyacinth, an aquatic weed known to many, is so thick that even boats can’t easily sail through. For Rahmina, she was saddened that it negatively affected the people whose livelihoods depended on fishing in Lake Victoria. Normally, the shores of Lake Victoria are a hive of activity. Unfortunately, fishermen are now forced to stay away due to the noxious water hyacinth. She therefore decided to look for a way to remove the hyacinth and make products out of it. Owing to the many impacts of technology in the modern world, little Rahmina was able to google and find her mentor and inspiration in this field by the name Evance and Apollo (Zingira crafts club) as well as ideas on how she could recycle the hyacinth. A good example of how children can use the internet to sort for ideas that can transform the world.

Some of the products that Rahmina makes out of water hyacinth.
some of her card products

Since 2016, Rahmina has used hyacinth to make cards and bags which are now on a rising demand resulting from the ban of plastic carrier bags in Kenya.

This has helped reduce the effect of water hyacinth in Lake Victoria and has also provided sustainable alternative bags and cards rather than use of paper from trees. She has also incorporated the use of wastepaper as a raw material for her products and especially when making cards for birthdays, graduations and success cards.

She has also incorporated the use of wastepaper as a raw material for her products and especially when making cards for birthdays, graduations and success cards.

Rahmina at work preparing her products outside her workshop with one of her casual workers

Wondering how she gets the raw material from the lake? She has few casual employees who help in harvesting and transporting the hyacinth to her small workshop. She the uses natural processes to remove the fiber from the plants, which she later dries using special plates designed in different sizes. Her products are Eco-friendly and no chemicals are added. She uses nontoxic colors to dye.

Rhamina as Miss Teen World Kenya 2018. 2nd Runners Up.

She is also a professional high fashion and pageantry model who uses her beauty to bring awareness on climate change and other environmental challenges. She is currently the face of royal dental. In her day to day conservation activities, she also collects plastic bottles to make different products from them. Based on her inspiration, Rahmina believes that everyone can use whatever they have to address various societal and environmental challenges while creating job opportunities.

Engaging in an environmental clean up exercise as Little Miss Eco Project 2017.

Here environmental efforts have been recognized through various awards and accolades that she has received along the way. Among them; the Green Kids Award 2018, Preteen Miss Eco Project 2017, Most Popular Teen 2018, 2nd runners up miss Teen world 2018-2019, and Model of the month (February) world 2019 among many others.

Rahmina believes in nurturing more young children in the same line and is currently grooming more of her friends to be environmentalists. One of them being Malaika who won the Green Kids Award 2019 and Aileen who was the 1st runners up of the same award.

Through her work, she was given an opportunity to usher flowers to both the First Lady of the republic of Kenya, H.E Margret Kenyatta and the First lady of Mozambique.

As a young passionate environmentalist, Rahmina hopes to continue using her passion and innovation to help get rid of water hyacinth in Lake Victoria as it greatly affects aquatic life, the people and the entire planet at large.

She went to Chemilil to plant trees and talk to the crowd about the importance of afforestation courtesy of seed-balls Kenya who also donated 2 Kg of seeds to her.
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