21-year-old following in Wangari Maathai’s footsteps

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What would the average Kenyan do if they ‘failed’ their KCSE? Give up perhaps. I was tempted to do the same but I did not My name is Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti. I am 21-years-old, currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and community development at Kenyatta University. In 2013, when the KCSE results for 2012 candidates were announced, I was heartbroken to learn I had scored 58 points.

I know 58 points is a lot – enough to earn anyone admission at any institution of higher learning. But for me, they were not enough. They were a point shy of JAB (Joint Admissions Board) cut off mark – which I needed if my dream to get into university were to come to fruition. I could not attend university as a private student. I knew that my mother, Margaret Wathuti, would not be able to raise the money needed to make this a reality. So when I saw my name below the line separating those who made it for JAB, I was depressed. So much so that my mother sent aunties over to tell me that there are many other things I could do with my life, that all was not lost. I wasn’t even listening. In my mind there was no other place to go to except the university.  I opted to go back to school and resit the exam and when the 2013 results were announced in 2014, I had scored 65 points.

My efforts had paid off and I could finally get university education and become the person I have so strongly wanted to become: an environmentalist. This is a quest I take seriously. Especially at this moment after being declared one of two 2016 recipients of the Wangari Maathai Scholarship, established by The Rockefeller Foundation, The Green Belt Movement and Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF). This was my second attempt. I applied as a first year student in 2015 and although I did not qualify, I never gave up — that is my strongest quality. In fact, when I asked Melvin Chibole of KCDF why I won the second time round he told me: “You are doing so much for the environment already. The fact that you never gave up applying again worked to your advantage.” Wangari Maathai was a big inspiration for many in Tetu. She was my member of parliament when I was a young girl. I read books about her. My mother would tell me that if I wanted to meet Maathai so much I should study hard – like Maathai.

People tell me I have a lot of passion for the environment. This, I believe, could be because I have managed quite a few feats compared to many 20-year-olds at my university. For instance, in my second year, I was already the chairperson of Kenyatta University Environment Club (KUNEC). I had risen from being a first year representative to vice-chairperson, and then chairperson — within two years. They have been witnesses of the numerous clean-ups I have organised as well as the tree planting activities I have been involved in. That is pretty much how I spend my time. I have also been previously elected project coordinator at Africa Youth Initiative for Climate Change (AYICC), a pan African forum for young people who love the environment.

Currently, I run an initiative called Green Generation Initiative whose main aim is to nurture more young environmental enthusiasts through conducting environmental education sessions as well as tree planting activities through adopt a tree campaign. I am also a full member of the Greenbelt movement. What Maathai achieved with her life is insurmountable. It however, feels good knowing that I am right on track — following her footsteps and giving back to mother Earth.

Bank On Me Sanitary Towel Campaign Launches Digital Donation Drive

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Musician King Kaka through the Kaka Empire Foundation is on a quest to raise 100,000 sanitary towels to keep needy girls in school through an initiative dubbed Bank on Me Sanitary Bank Campaign. Macintosh HD:Users:marymuindegmail.com:Desktop:Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 14.25.33.png

In partnership with, Kim-Fay, local manufacturer of Confidence Sanitary Towels, and iPay, an innovative online payment processing company, the Sanitary Bank Campaign has launched a digital donation drive for greater public participation.  The move is expected to encourage more people to make their financial donations online via mobile money, mobile banking and credit cards, to give girls confidence to stay in school.

Speaking about the initiative, King Kaka said, “This campaign is about recognizing the right of education for girls.  Ministry of Health research shows that 65% of girls in rural and slum areas engage in transactional sex because they cannot access sanitary towels. We deeply appreciate partners, well-wishers and influencers who have come on board to intervene and make our vision a reality.”

Initiated in March 2018, the campaign is designed to complement Government efforts through Private-Public Participation platforms to give girls free sanitary towels. So far over 10 key partners and numerous influencers have joined the campaign enabling over 10,000 girls in Machakos, Lamu, Thika, Turkana and Trans Nzoia, access to pads and more importantly increased school attendance.
Music Artist King Kaka (Left) onboards new partners Josephine Ngigi, Confidence Sanitary Towels Brand Manager (Center-Left), Andrew Muriithi (Center-Right) and Philip Nyamwaya, CEO iPay Africa, (right) to the Bank on Me Sanitary Towel Campaign. The initiative has launched a digital donation drive to engage public participation to help keep 100,000 needy girls in school by giving them free sanitary towels.

 

Josephine Ngigi, Confidence Brand Manager at Kim Fay, expounded on the school visits, “Beyond donating the sanitary towels to the schoolgirls, the team visiting schools is also giving hygiene tips on proper disposal of the pads, importance of hand washing as well as self esteem conversations to help the adolescents navigate their puberty years.”
Josephine Ngigi, Confidence Sanitary Towels Brand Manager, at the launch of Music Artist – King Kaka’s Bank on Me Sanitary Towel digital donation drive. So far over 10,000 girls have received Confidence Sanitary Towels since the launch of the initiative in March 2018.
iPay MD, Philip Nyamwaya explained the need for transparent digital donation drives saying, “We offered our technology to the Bank On Me campaign to simplify and accelerate the donation process and also enable secure monetary donations from the general public globally.”
                                                                                                                                                                    “Cash donations from as little as Kshs 5/-, mobile money Mpesa, Eazzy Pay or Airtel Money and Safaricom Bonga points can also be used. This will be tracked on www.bankonme.care website to verify and vet amounts given to purchase Confidence pads for girls,” he added.
Music Artist King Kaka (Left) appreciates Philip Nyamwaya, CEO iPay Africa for donating the technology to run the digital donation drive as part of his contribution to the Bank On Me Sanitary Towel Campaign which aims to keep 100,000 girls in School by providing free sanitary towels.
King Kaka, who is also a UNICEF Advocate and among the keynote speakers at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Goal Keepers event in New York, will be representing Kenya to speak about the Sanitary Bank initiative. The campaign continues to invite partners to help educate girls and reverse the statistics that 88% of girls in remote Kenyan schools have no access to sanitary pads and 1 in 3 girls, misses approximately 4 days of school every month due to lack of sanitary pads.

 

Campaign partners: UNICEF, Allan Chesang Foundation, Pace, Better 4  Kenya,  One FM, Skyward Express, Executive Water, IQ Marketing, Confidence Sanitary Towels, Zamara, Zetech University Symmatech Solutions amongst others. Influencers: (Miss Earth Kenya, Kaka Empire And Kaka Empire Foundation, Kalekye Mumo, Anerlisa Muigai, Caroline Mutoko, Janet Mbugua amongst others.

Music Artist King Kaka (Left) on boards new partners Josephine Ngigi, Confidence Sanitary Towels Brand Manager (Center) and Philip Nyamwaya, CEO iPay Africa, (right) to the Bank on Me Sanitary Towel Campaign. The initiative has launched a digital donation drive to engage public participation to help keep 100,000 needy girls in school by giving them free sanitary towels.
For More information please contact:
Ms Akumu Ang’iro –
PR and Marketing Manager,
Kaka Empire Limited,
Cell: O721 785 975, 0789550553,

Factories Going Green: Kim-Fay Rolls Out A Clean Energy Business Plan

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Kim-Fay, a leading local manufacturer of personal care, tissue, & hygiene products, has plugged into the National Green Industry Action Plan with the installation of 382 Solar Panels on its factory roof. Kim Fay joins the growing number of green factories in Kenya seeking to increase operational efficiency while reducing their electric-power carbon footprint.  The manufacturers’ Clean Energy Initiative underpins Kenya’s Green Industry Action Plan designed to promote the adoption of new energy efficient solutions to help factories meets Kenya’s vision 2030 clean energy goals.

(L-R) Raj Bains, Kim-Fay East Africa CEO receives commemorative plaque from Ron orlovsky CEO, Solar Power & Infrastructure upon successful installation of 382 Solar Panels on the factory’s roof as part of their Clean Energy Initiative dubbed Reduce Today Respect Tomorrow. Kim-Fay’s goal is to be 100% self-reliant on renewable energy by 2022.

Speaking about the initiative Raj Bains, Managing Director, Kim-Fay said, “We are energized by our Clean Energy Business Plan which is geared towards safeguarding our world for future generations.  Our goal is to have 100% of our energy requirements from renewable energy and be totally self sufficient by 2022.” “Dubbed Reduce Today, Respect Tomorrow, the overall impact of the initiative goes beyond improving Kim-Fay’s operational efficiencies; it’s a tool to integrate clean energy use into a unique sustainability business model. This will reduce costs on various levels of production from design to manufacturing, thus enabling customers to enjoy quality affordable hygiene brands” explained Raj

Ron Orlovsky CEO, Solar Power & Infrastructure Kenya, the company that installed Kim-Fay’s solar panels said, “Investing in solar energy is a smart move for factories because solar panels last long and have few maintenance problems compared to other sources of power available. In addition, the energy is free, clean and renewable.”  Guided by UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goal 7 – Affordable Clean Energy, which highlights the importance of industries like Kim Fay, adopting cost-effective technology to reduce the global electricity consumption by 14%, Kim-Fay is building on its organizational ethos which is to Uplift Lives.

(L-R) Raj Bains, Kim-Fay East Africa CEO receives commemorative plaque from Ron orlovsky CEO, Solar Power & Infrastructure upon successful installation of 382 Solar Panels on the factory’s roof as part of their Clean Energy Initiative dubbed Reduce Today Respect Tomorrow. Kim-Fay’s goal is to be 100% self-reliant on renewable energy by 2022.

“This begins with the understanding that the way we use resources today shapes the world of tomorrow. And as part of our sustainability vision, we are committed to actively encourage our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to do the same so that together we drive the message home,” added Raj.

Looking at Kim Fay at a glance, the company is adopting a phased approach to implement a clean energy initiative. The main goal of the company is to have 100% of the energy requirements from renewable energy and be totally self sufficient by 2022. Through this initiative Kim Fay will focus on reducing consumption at every stage of the product lifecycle – from design and manufacture to distribution and disposal.

Just to note:

  • 35% of Kim Fays’ total power is currently from solar energy
  • Phase one involved installation of 382 solar panels installed at the factory.
  • This equates to 16,267 KWH per month of electricity and approximately 195.2MWH of clean solar energy each year.
  • Did you Know?  The earth receives more energy from the sun in just 1 hour than the world uses in 1 whole year.

About Kim-Fay:

Kim-Fay specializes in manufacturing superior quality personal care, tissue & hygiene products for the East African Market.  Fay, which is the company’s flagship brand, has been trusted by Kenyan households for over 25 years.It is a market leader across numerous product categories, and has established itself as one of the strongest consumer household brands in the region. With a goal of embracing the latest global hygiene trends for East Africa, Fay has well established products of choice, in categories such as toilet paper, facial tissues, serviettes, aluminum foil, cling film, baby diapers & feminine hygiene products.

The rolling out of a clean energy business plan by Kim Fay shines light to other companies on the need to go green by completely switching to clean and renewable energy for a sustainable future.

For more information please contact

Mary Gitari, Brand Spark PR , Email: Mary.gitari@brandspark.co.ke

Andrew Mureithi , Marketing Manager – Kim Fay,Email: Amureithi@kimfay.com

MY UNTOLD CHILDHOOD STORY IN HONOR OF WANGARI MAATHAI

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What would you do if you found a little girl struggling to find her way through the crowd just to shake the hand of a very prominent person who happens to be her role model? Well, they say that in every smiling face lies a hidden story, 14 Years ago, I had a dream. I had always wanted to meet and shake the hand of the late Professor Wangari Maathai to an extent of always squeezing my tiny self through the crowd whenever she held political rallies. Having been born and raised in Nyeri County, Tetu constituency, the late professor Wangari Maathai was my member of parliament at a time when I was only 7 years old. I always loved and admired her love for the environment and particularly trees.

While sitting round the fire place in the evening, I loved how my grandmother would share story’s concerning Wangari Maathais’ conservation works. Little did she know that she was planting a seed in me to emulate this great conservationist. My grandmother valued education so much and I remember, she always encouraged me to study hard just like Wangari Maathai if at all I ever wanted to meet her. I heeded to her advice and my performance began improving in school because I had a driving force. I planted my first tree at the age of 7 years old when I joined the wildlife and environmental club in primary school. I was so sensitive about trees to an extent that I always got home early as I wasn’t playing around with leaves on my way home from school. Professor Wangari Maathai used her heart and hands to sow seeds for the future which we are now reaping. She was selfless and fought for the environment jealously with future generations in mind.

There is always a price attached to every positive change, but when it came to environmental conservation, Wangari Maathai stood out, she didn’t mind paying the heavy price. Some called her mad, she received all sorts of insults, risked her own life and they even jailed her but she had a vision and was confident about spreading the same message. Despite all this, her struggle and legacy stood out. She had no selfish motives, she was only fighting for a better future. She spent most of her life planting trees, empowering people, promoting peace and creating awareness on environmental conservation.

Well, the journey to my dream wasn’t so easy, but lets see if it ever came to pass. My love for the environment doubled when I got to high school because my knowledge on the same was also scaling up. I worked towards my envisioned dream and I remember reviving the Weather and Environmental club in Kangubiri Girl’s High School where I was admitted after passing my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). By the time I was in form two, I already knew that I wanted to become an environmentalist. Well, I sounded crazy because I was the odd one out in my class alongside; doctors, nurses, pilots, managers and engineers, but I had a dream and giving up was not an option. My geography teacher always encouraged me and the school also assigned us a portion of land where we planted and adopted trees. 25th of September 2011 was a very sad and emotional day for me when I heard of the demise of the late professor Wangari Maathai. I knew that it marked the end of my dream of ever meeting her or even shaking her hand. This meant that every effort that I had made to fulfill this dream had all gone down to the drain. At first, I lost the meaning of studying but then something in my inner spirit kept telling me that all was not lost and I immediately began walking into libraries just to check for any written material about the late professor Wangari Maathai.

I read books about her; the first one being unbowed; which I realized motivated me and inspired me to stand strong and follow in her footsteps. I may not have met her physically, but her legacy reigns on, I’m happy that I am now reaping the seeds that she sowed during her time and the only way I can give back is to follow in her conservation footsteps for the sake of my future generations. I am now more than ever before, determined to leave my mark just as the late Nobel prize winner did. She always loved quoting that “We are called to assist the earth heal her wounds and, in the process, heal our own.”

I am not only passionate about the environment but I also study a course in environment and I love exploring different ideas just to be part of the solution towards different global environmental challenges. Today is Wangari Maathai Day, a day set aside in honor of the late Nobel prize winner; professor Wangari Maathai. I decided to honor her by sharing part of my untold childhood story as she plays a major role in my journey as an environmentalist. Your legacy reigns on and you will forever remain in our memory. Let us together protect and fight for our environment jealously and never let whatever she fought for get down to the drain. Happy Wangari Maathai Day and remember to always plant trees in her honor by making tree planting your habit.

Writer,                                                                                                                                                          Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti – Liz Mazingira                                                                              4th Recipient of Wangari Maathai Scholarship Award.

                                                                                                                                                      Email:lizwathuti@gmail.com – 0726309533

Exemplary Lessons From Most Forested Nations Worldwide.

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Trees may not have WIFI but anytime I walk into a forest, I always feel the connection. A survey carried out in 2015 in Bhutan; one of the most forested nations, found out that 91% of the Bhutanese were either extensively or deeply happy. Environmental conservation is a global issue that ought to be prioritized. Currently, most countries in the world are either struggling to increase their forest cover, trying to maintain their high forest cover or have no forest cover at all. I bet you already know where your country lies. I am amazed by the world’s top 20 countries that are most tree-filled. Well, I decided to pick on a few.

This is heaven-Kaieteur Falls in Guyana; Among the top most forested countries (77% forest cover). Guyana is a small nation that has shown exceptional progress in conservation matters worldwide. Some may attribute this to the fact that Guyana is a small nation with a low population, but indigenous people in this nation have since history engaged in forest conservation while still reaping benefits and a living from the same forests. One of the most outstanding efforts is that it’s also a leading nation worldwide in the development of national forest Measurement, Reporting and also Verification Systems.

Have a look at how hotels in Bhutan are constructed – commonly referred to as forest villas. (86% forest cover). Well, in Bhutan, Co -existing with trees is not just a term. Clearing of land and cutting down of trees for development is not common in this country. 86% of the entire country is forested. Did you know that Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world producing more oxygen than it consumes? Bhutan’s forest cover success story is attributed to good governance. Their fourth king was a visionary leader who; passed laws permitting all households to extract firewood, banned timber export, declared 30% of the forests as protected, encouraged community forestry and also offered alternatives such as free electricity to farmers to reduce their demand for firewood. Currently, Bhutan has plans to maintain its green cover, go zero waste, 100% organic and its government is now pushing for electric cars.

Mystic forest of Yakushima Island in Japan. Japan stands at 69% forest cover. Most countries have blamed deforestation on population density issues, but did you know that Japan is the 10th most populated country worldwide with a population of 127 million and has still managed a 69% forest cover? However, it has not been a walk in the park for Japan. Three hundred years ago, Japan was undergoing a greedy form of deforestation that almost turned the nation’s scenery into a wasteland. As a solution, Japan completely and successfully switched from unsustainable forest exploitation to sustainable forestry. Another outstanding lesson from Japan was the use of Community management of village forests and silviculture which kept spreading from one village to another and eventually helped save Japans’ forests.

A Slow drift into a rural village in Zambia (Aerial view) – Zambia has a 66 % forest cover. Zambia is located within the southern African region and has a 66% forest cover. The local and urban communities do benefit from the forests by utilizing the wood and non-wood forest products. However, unsustainable levels of forest utilization as a result of weak institutions, high poverty levels, demand for fuel-wood and unpopular conservation laws led to a great loss of this forest cover, between 2000 and 2014. Zambia is currently trying to recover the lost forest land by encouraging the use of alternative sources of domestic energy, sustainable techniques of charcoal production and ensuring that timber extraction and all forests actions proceed within the provisions of the 2015 forests act.

Kenya’s forests are rapidly declining as a result of pressure from increased population, logging, the shamba system, clearing of natural forests for developments and plantations, fires, forest excisions, human settlements and illegal exploitation by different stakeholders. The dwindling of this forest cover has had severe effect on the climate, streams, wildlife and also the human population. There are several lessons that we can learn from different forested nations which include; strict implementation of all legal mechanisms, community forest conservation, sustainable forest management, alternatives to most exploited forest products among many others. The road to increase the countries forest cover as a nation is not easy but it’s something we really need now and in future and everyone needs to rise up to the challenge and get on board. Rising up to the challenge means dealing with everything that is dwindling our forest cover. “It is the little things that we citizens do that make a difference”, I quote my mentor the late Professor Wangari Maathai. What is your little thing towards helping Kenya achieve the targeted 10% forest cover? Are you part of the solution or the problem?

Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti – Liz Mazingira.
4th recipient of Wangari Maathai Scholarship award.