On 15 March 2019, at least 1.6 million school children across all 7 continents, in more than 125 countries and in over 2000 places, took a stand against climate change, brought to the forefront by Greta Thunberg with the #FridaysforFuture campaign. #FFF is a movement following the call from Greta to rally school strikes in order to protest against the lack of action on the worlds current climate crisis. Why are school kids striking, you may ask? With the worsening Climate Destruction, the goal of going to school begins to be pointless. Greta Thunberg asks;
– Why study for a future, which may not be there?
– Why spend a lot of effort to become educated, when our governments are not listening to the educated?
Following in the lightly trodden footsteps of Greta, Yola Mgogwana – 11 years old from Yomelela Primary School in Khayelitsha – has become a local climate activist. Yola is a member of Earthchild Project Eco Warriors, an environmental club lead by Xoli Fuyani, ECP Environmental Coordinator. On Friday 15 March, Yola lead the strike of learners in Khayelitsha. She shares about her experience with #FFF, and why she wants to be a climate activist.
Yola – why are you striking for climate?
“I see the effects of climate change in my community (Khayelitsha – one of the impoverished
townships in Cape Town) every single day. [Future for Friday] was a collective of young people (different races, different backgrounds and classes) coming together for a good cause and saying “We are sick of waiting for the adults. We are the future and we have the voice and power to change things.” It starts with us. I am inspired. It showed me that united we stand. Also it demonstrates UBUNTU… [a South African word used to explain connection of humanity] I am because we are. I am happy to know that there are like minded people all around the world who care about the environment.”
How did you get involved in environmental activism, and what does it mean to you to be heard?
“This year I volunteered to take part in Earthchild Project Eco Warriors, headed by SisXoli (Xoli Fuyani). In the club we learn about environmental issues effecting both our school, community and the entire world. Our mission is to integrate environmental policies in our schools’ code of conduct and also take action by implementing change and solutions to local issues. We monitor our school water use and electricity and encourage the learners to be aware of their use and finds ways to reduce our consumption. We also reduce our organic waste, using a worm farm which makes compost. The compost is then used to start up an organic vegetable garden. Because I believe in youth using their voice for change, I was selected as Chair Lady for our Club. When Future for Friday Africa approached our club to get involved, it was an immediate ‘Yes’! I knew I needed to represent the voices of black youth from under resourced communities in Cape Town. I was happy when I got chosen as one of the speakers at the main event. My speech was a collective voice of youth who don’t have resources to be heard. I was also inspired to change the script and show the world that us black youth from townships care about the Climate because we are the ones that get affected the most.”
What is next for you regarding your activism in your community?
“I am excited to give a talk and presentation to our teachers and pledge them to stop using plastics. I am also planning to give talks at our local primary schools. My biggest goal will be to have a slot on a local radio or
newspaper where I could raise awareness about environmental issues effecting our planet, but also give tips for action. Day to day things people can do to reduce their carbon footprint. There are also plans to continue striking, but I would like to keep it local so we can start spreading awareness in our own communities.”
What message would you like our Government to hear, on behalf of passionate young school children like yourself?
“From an a 11 year old girl from Khayelitsha, I would like to say, by not implementing policies that protect our environment, you are robbing us [of] an opportunity to end poverty, and stealing our future. The crisis is now! People are dying! Nature is crying for help… hear us! Work with us as – we are not the enemy. All we want is a better future where Nature is put in front and made a priority. It is the beginning and young people are motivated to do more and make some noise.”
Powerful and inspiring words from a young game changer who found her environmental passion through Earthchild Project Eco Warrriors Club. You can watch Yola on Cape Town TV here and listen to the Cape Talk interview podcast with Pippa Hudson here
If you would like to find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to sponsor an Eco Warrior like Yola for R250, you can visit our Givengain page and donate here