collectively written by Alhassan Sesay, Joanita Babirye, Linda Hill, Mark Sandow, Oluwatosin Adeosun, Sarah Mathison and Tosin Olowyeye-Taiwo
During our Inclusive Leadership Heart to Heart Cafe on May 4, 2019, Inclusive Leaders from Canada, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Uganda prepared this report for Mother Earth. It was so great to be with great minds and hearts once again. Coming here to learn and relearn the skills involved in deep listening and mindfulness is clear and hopeful. Our global Inclusive Leadership community feels like an appreciative, connected family.
Today we had so many opportunities to learn from each other and encourage each other by sharing our work in Sierre Leone, Canada, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria. We share so many interconnected environmental and social concerns including climate change, water-ways being polluted by plastic and industry, the vulnerability of women, children, youth and elders in so many communities; and gaps in access to water, roads, hospitals and education.
Alhassan and Joanita found so many interconnections as they each talked about their work in Sierra Leone and Uganda. With World Earth Day in April and Africa Day in May, these are busy months for many volunteers from schools and communities who are cleaning up plastic and other rubbish, planting trees and gardening. Joanita described how Climate Captains are guiding teenage Earth Ambassadors to inspire children in schools and community settings to care for the Earth. Alhassan described a project that supports teachers and students to get involved in gardening and composting. And there is so much planting of fruit trees going on as a way of addressing deforestation and sequestering carbon. Avocado, mango, jack-fruit and cashews trees are useful and so they don’t get cut down. Planting in schools and institutions leads to better care given to the trees during the three years it takes to produce fruit. When children (and politicians) plant their own birthday trees, this increases motivation.
Tosin was inspired by these examples of teachers and students getting involved in caring for the Earth. She runs a school for children who have dropped out of school. Her Street-to-School initiative began by going from street to street in her rural community in Nigeria trying to convince parents to release their children from child labour. Instead of waiting for the government or raising funds to pay for fees in private schools, Tosin and others who shared her vision worked together to start a school of their own. This has been challenging, important and very dear to grow from a school with three children to over two-hundred students.
We all found Sarah’s description of Farmer’s Markets and Community Supported Agriculture in Canada to be very exciting. What great ideas! With Community Supported Agriculture, individuals and families pay a farmer before the planting starts or in weekly installments. The farmer grows nutritious food and then the family receives a share of that farmer’s produce throughout the growing season.
Mark Sandow shared about his passion for writing articles about gaps in Ghana’s infrastructure. By writing about what is needed, communities are helped to access the services they need. Politicians are moved to action by his photographs and articles about washed out bridges, schools with no desks, communities without hospitals, and small children working instead of being in school. Joanita observed that Mark is helping Africa write it’s own story and encouraged him to mentor others.
We explored the question of how to find funding and support for our local initiatives. The answer seems to be to invite green-leaning and community-minded politicians and other potential supporters to get involved in what we are doing. Youth who are actively involved in their communities have the power to encourage leaders to connect. Politicians who appreciate what the younger generation are gaining are likely to support these projects. Putting effort into getting to know our political representatives personally leads to support from local, regional and national leaders.
We ended today’s Heart to Heart cafe with gratitude for the opportunity to be heard by a group of Inclusive Leaders who are intentionally listening with compassion. We shared our heart-felt mutual admiration for each other and Linda made a commitment to share what we are doing with the world by writing this blog post.
We can encourage others to keep going by sharing our ways of thinking globally and acting locally. This is heart to heart activism for the Earth and the people of the Earth. Unity is power. With togetherness we move forward.