STORIES OF THOSE CHANGING THE WORLD
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Artist for the Earth
I am a Tanzanian mixed medium painter and an environmental scientist based in Dar-es-salaam. Lately the temperature in Dar-es-salaam has been rising above and dropping below normal, while the rainy season has been shifting and leading to flooding. Everyone has been questioning themselves on why the conditions in Dar-es-salaam have become like this. This has brought climate change more into my thoughts and has made this issue clearer to my community. After observing my lifestyle and my society’s lifestyle, I came to realize that there are small things that we do that contribute strongly to climate change. If these acts are done by repeatedly by many people, then they will have a huge impact.
On Swahili Street of Dar-es-salaam, I find different types of waste materials littered everywhere I go. Waste management is a problem from the source where waste is generated, as well as through storage, collection and disposal. As a young boy, it was sometimes difficult to play football due to the overflow of a landfill site which was near our playing ground. During rainy season, it was completely a mess due to lack of a proper drainage system for runoff water. It was a bad experience to have at such a young age, and I was not yet aware of the cause.
My work is inspired by the ongoing poor waste management in Swahili Street of Dar-es-salaam. Working with oil paints, used plastic bottles and fabric to create mixed medium paintings, I start conversations about waste management by expressing my experience. I conceptualise my ideas and thoughts in my sketch book first, then paint the final sketch. The textures in my mixed medium paintings are inspired by a traditional practice of creating pots by clay soil at my Grandmother’s home town, Matema – Kyela, in the southern highlands of Tanzania. The eyes used in the figures I create on an abstract background are inspired by the Makonde tribe from Tanzania who scar their faces as decoration of beauty. I obtained this information from the Makonde people who trained me on painting lessons before I joined the Nafasi Art Academy for contemporary art.
Born and Raised Environmentalist
My name is Bella Kagisa, a young lady and a fresh graduate. This story is based on my real-life experiences. I was born and raised in a family of an environmentalist. My dad has always loved and cared for the environment so much. He always bought books of trees and flowers. I was so interested in the books because of their beautiful pictures of flowers and I really liked the passion my dad had for his career. I liked getting to know different species of plants in their biological names, Swahili names and our local tree names from his books. Going to the fields with him and identifying the tree species was extra fun to do.
Planting trees is a tradition to all of us in the family. Each one of us has a portion of flowers to take care of when we are at home. My dad taught us how to water, trim and take care of the flowers. My home is surrounded by big beautiful trees that have never been cut since they were planted. The sunny days are not a big problem since we have shades for them at home. The area around my home always has fresh air from the plants. You should visit our home once! I know you will love it. We also have a shamba, fruits of almost all kinds, veggies and plenty of banana plants.
The interesting part of this story is that I followed my dad’s path. I am now an Environmental Scientist and I am so proud of it. I am a good ambassador of the environment, since I was trained from an early age. I really do not know how I came to this field but I love what I am doing. With all the practical trainings from my dad about forestry, I learned a lot about what I can do for our lovely environment. The environment is all we have as human beings. It takes care of us all.
I can now proudly say that my dad’s life and career built me into what I am today. And I can proudly to say I am a better version of him. I am ready to take good care of the environment and protect and conserve it for all.
I would also like to invite each one of you to be an ambassador for the environment, since there are many things one can do to conserve it. Do not forget to plant a tree for a greener and safer planet! It does not need much — it only needs willingness from within.
Using Computer Literacy to Spark Change
Frank E. Anderson
My name is Frank E. Anderson, and I am a young graduate of environmental sciences but very skilled in computer literacy. My colleagues used to call me maestro due to my devotion and skills that I used to make everyone proud.
To begin my story, I should say that I am proud of my almighty God who powered a humanitarian heart in my blood and my skills and enthusiasm in computing, mapping and technology. I was raised in nontechnical environment where it was difficult to access computers. I started to learn computer hardware with friends in university. After repairing my father’s desktop, I began my journey of web development. I developed almost three web apps and repaired a number of computers and mobile phones without any charges.
I aspired to pursue a career in technology, especially computing, but faced obstacles when I chose not to study math in my advanced education. I did not secure a chance to study computing due to a lack of advanced mathematics qualifications. Although I was very frustrated, I chose to find an alternative career that can best align with my aspiration. After winning a Google scholarship for data science, I was inspired to study environmental sciences to integrate with my data skills.
At first, I found out that GIS and remote sensing are the only parts of computing in environmental sciences. I had no experience with GIS before, but I was determined to dig deeper into GIS fresh from my 1st year of studies, and it was very easy to learn. I was able to get involved in many humanitarian assistance activities, in which I utilized my mapping skills. In fact, I was so interested in GIS that I tried to innovate my own toolkit for waste management and traffic congestion detection.
Now, I can say that I am proud of my GIS skills, as I have been able to integrate them with computing for humanitarian assistance in collaboration with international organizations such as Red Cross, HOTOSM and Youth Mappers. In addition, I have used these skills to tackle the environmental crisis, having volunteered with EARTHDAY.ORG to support Earth Challenge 2020 in Tanzania.