It has been a while since I posted on Zambia and I still have a few posts to go in the series. This post is about the amazing folk I met while volunteering in Zambia. I have to say that I think if you have ever traveled anywhere, and lived alongside folk then you will know that isn’t really the geography that makes traveling so incredible, but rather the people that you meet on your way. This post is really about the incredible folk I met from all walks of life, wherever we went there were simply the most amazing people.
Previous Posts in the Zambia Series:
- Se7en Stories to Begin With
- The Journey that is Traveling to Zambia by Bus
- Feasting in an Eco-Friendly Kitchen
- Life in the Green Green-Pop Campsite
- There is so much more to Planting a Tree than Planting a Tree.
- Se7en + 1 Things to Make and Do in Zambia.
Let’s Meet the People
- Uncle Ben, Tree Ambassador: Just as the Ocean has an Ambassador in Sylvia Earle, so Zambia has has an ambassador of trees. I met Uncle Ben briefly in Cape Town early this year, and already I felt compelled to learn more from him. A man who is always teaching and sharing his story… he has been a lone voice for the trees, for so long, speaking for them when no-one else was. He doesn’t just speak for trees but he plants them… he is part of a growing force of environmentalists who realise that if they don’t plant trees for their children then there won’t be trees.
- Zwai Taught Us to Plant Trees With Confidence: I met Zwai in Cape Town, at a tree planting day… and it turns out he has a man packed with knowledge. One thing about GreenPop is that they have dozens of volunteers and locals passing through, all needing to know how to plant trees and the first thing they do is team us up and teach us. I love how he taught us so well that I could come home and straight away share the knowledge, not just with my kids but a group of kids. Lesson learnt and savoured.
- The Permaculture Team: Marshall, Artwell and Ganief. What these guys don’t know about plants and planting… how to grow your vegetable garden from scratch; permaculture; hydroponics; composting and food forests. I was so excited to work in the food forest one day and just see how vegetables are growing along side and learn about mulching and companion planting.I tell you I have discovered a whole new section of the library since I got home… reading and reading and reading.
But that wasn’t enough, they were also part a Sustainable Food Systems Workshop with UNESCO and a heap of local kids… and I loved their attitude: It’s not what do you want to be when you grow up, but rather “What Problem do you want to solve?” Now that’s a completely different view of the world. The day was all about looking for business opportunities at each step of the way in the food chain process, and by having a sustainable food chain, one where your “usually discarded waste” goes back into your system. Right now our business systems are based on competition but globally we need to make a conscious decision to work together.
- Candice, The Zero Waste Warrior: A year ago I would not have believed Zero-Waste was even a thing. But the more I learn, the more I know, the more I believe that this is what we should be aiming for. We really need to reduce our waste and drastically, and immediately. This gal is full of tips and tricks of things to do and consider in terms of up-cycling and re-cycling. I know as a family that our one black bag of garbage a week is too much, it very quickly becomes 52 bags a year. Imagine if every household is throwing away 52 bags of garbage a year… that’s 520 bags from our street alone. The one thing in Zambia that we saw a lot of was garbage, while Cape Town has a giant tip, carefully hidden from site… they have pits that they fill with garbage and burn when they they become full. It is so easy to look at the garbage blowing around the neighbourhood, that has blown out of the pit… and say gosh, we have nothing like that. But a visit to our city dump and I have to say… at least they can see their garbage and be aware that they need to do something. We have this idea that our garbage vanishes in the back of a truck and so everything is fine… but I have to say, we can be doing so much more than we are do. Since we got back we have implemented a compost heap – it was one of our goals for the year and had I know it was this easy we would have done it years ago. Plenty of food for thought there!!!
- Ireen: A Climate Ambassador: I quiet unassuming gal who popped out of the crowd in town one day and struck me with her energy. It isn’t often that you meet someone who just quietly gets so much done. Everywhere you look around camp she was doing something and busy helping someone. This gal is going places, she is dedicated to the environment and any and all projects associated with it… she is not afraid to take on big projects and think of ways to find solutions to problems, she was equally at ease amongst the Greenpop staffers and the Unicef students that came for a day of workshops… it is young energetic folk like Ireen, that are busy making environmental changes happen, where they are, with what they have. I am so proud to have met this gal – I know she is going places.
- The School Children: Whenever we worked at a school we were met by bright and energetic kids that knew so much. At the first school we visited two gals stood up and recited a long and incredible poem about the environment, environmental issues and solutions. Honestly, I was blown away. Then there were this lad and his buddy, who has invented an electro magnetic hover board – I kid you not… these kids are so inventive and have such entrepreneurial minds. We could really learn a lot from them.
- The Volunteers: What a fabulous team of folk from all over the world, from all ages and stages and from all walks of life. This was a fairly intense week for me, my natural personality has me well hidden behind a screen and suddenly I was out there meeting so many people, all with such adventurous hearts. I have to say it was great. Students from Stellenbosch, girls from Germany and Ireland and Sweden, a couple from the United States. Folk from Zimbabwe and Zambia, Australia and NewZealand. It was a truly incredible place to meet people and learn. And somehow all together we formed a team and managed to plant trees, not to mention talk and talk and then talk some more. And while I am typically overwhelmed by crowds and get fairly “peopled out” after the shortest meeting, I have to say I loved meeting all these folk and connecting with them.
- The GreenPop Team: Here you have an incredible mix of creativity, folk who just won’t give up on the environment. They are dedicated and committed, they are tenacious and consistent, they practice what they preach and they are not afraid to take action. This folks is the incredible GreenPop team packed with the most energetic and creative people you can imagine. I had such fun meeting and chatting to these guys that are so positive and focused on making a difference in the world. These guys are dreamers, they don’t think small, and they don’t think “every little bit counts.” They see a problem and commit to doing everything they can. In Zambia there is a huge deforestation problem. GreenPop aren’t thinking one tree at a time… they are thinking: “Lets plant a forest,” and then they plant one.
I love his thinking, that the environment is under pressure… but the environment belongs to us all… the air that we breathe wherever we are is our air. Just as the whale doesn’t worry about international borders neither do trees. Environmental problems wherever they are, aren’t concerned with borders, we can all do something about them… we must. This man is a compelling story teller and an evening of his storytelling at the campfire is a memory that will be fixed in your heart forever.