By Lydia Limbe
Polythene bags, plastic water and juice bottles, sweet wrappers. These were the bulk of the trash that were picked up during the #DadasJointEvent clean up that took place on the 16th April, 2016 along the Nairobi National Park fence.
Purity Wanjohi, the founder of Mazingira Safi Initiative also an Akili Dada 2016 Fellow, organized this cleanup and the Akili Dada Gap Year students volunteered.
A total of 91 volunteers showed up, 15 of whom were from the Gap Year programme. The cleanup started at 8.00am and ended at midday, and it was done along the park’s fence, from the main entrance all the way to Galleria.
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) supported the event by issuing a truck to collect garbage, as well as availing a warden to show the volunteers the actual area that is within the vicinity of the park.
Hellen Wairimu, one of the volunteers from the Gap Year Programme, felt it was an honor for her to engage in such an event.
“It felt really good to be in the reflector jackets, and to use tools that I’ve never used before.”
“During the exercise, I noticed that the dirt was mostly collected at certain points. I think the storm water had swept them up. At one point during the cleanup, there was traffic snarl-up and one of the road users threw out a piece of paper from his car window. One of the volunteers saw this and asked him to pick up after himself,” says Donna Cheruto, a 2016 Akili Dada Gap Year participant.
Stephanie Wamalwa found a lost kitten, which had white fur from the nose to its chest, while the rest of its body was spotted black and grey.
“We gave the kitten to KWS,” says Stephanie.
The GAP Year programme is for students who have cleared high school, and are waiting to join university. During this year, the ones who have been enrolled with Akili Dada get trained on different college, work and life preparedness skills, and exposed to different internships and other life-related opportunities.
This cleanup volunteer opportunity has taught them very valuable and practical lessons about life.
“While we were cleaning, I noticed that it’s not the government to blame for poor drainage. It’s you and me. If we all love our environment and love a clean surrounding, then we will realize that our bad garbage disposal habits is what will deal with some of what is actually solvable problems that we have with our drainage system,” Hellen Wairimu points out.
“It occurred to me that to have a clean environment, it has to be everyone’s responsibility. If we wait for somebody to come and cleanup, nobody will. But if we all do it, then our environment will be undoubtedly clean,” Lillian Mbithe, also and Akili Dada Gap year student.
Viola Nelly, who was one of the 91 volunteers, felt that people should volunteer for causes that they believe in, and not just because they are being paid to do it. The garbage collected was piled high in the KWS pickup, which the warden who was present during the cleanup said that it will be burned at the central burning point that is within the park.