US Navy Personnel Help Kenyans Invest in the Future
Members of Maritime Civil Affairs Team 112, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, celebrated World Environment Day with their east Africa partners in Kenya. MCAT 112 and other U.S. and African organizations planted nearly 600 Casuarina tree seedlings at Mjanaheri Primary School as part of the celebration June 5.
Multiple organizations, such as the African Medical and Research Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development-sponsored Aphia Plus and the Kenyan Forestry Service, as well as other government officials, non-government organizations, school staff, district education offices, students and their parents, participated in this tree-planting endeavor. These people and organizations partnered together to address different livelihood and health issues in the area and asked the MCAT members to be involved.
"We thought it would be good to work together in this area to make this planting successful," said Mwanaisha Maende, Coast Province field officer for Digital Opportunity Trust. "It's very important to us to be part of this initiative to find ways we can embrace conserving the environment with information, communication and technology."
Using this combination of information, communication and technology, the organizations spread their message of investing in the future.
"[The organizations are here to] educate the students and teachers on the importance of the environment and how it can be harnessed into a green economy in the future," said Irene Mlanga, DOT program assistant. She said her job is to provide entrepreneurial and economic training to young people in the country.
"Casuarina trees are used for construction in this area of Kenya," said U.S. Navy Lt. Cory Cole, MCAT 112 officer in charge. "These trees are not only important for re-vegetation of the area, but if they (the school) have a plan - a phased cut-down of these trees - it will create a revenue source for the school. So it's a sustainable project that will continue to give back."
Mlanga emphasized one of the outcomes she hopes will result from these types of events.
"[I want] for people in Malindi and Magarini to seek ways on how we can improve the environment and help these young people to grow up knowing that it is important to conserve their environment even if they are not the ones who benefit but the future generations," said Mlanga.
After the tree planting, the participants gathered for a ceremony where students presented skits, songs and dances emphasizing the need to take care of the environment.
"When you are down on the ground with these kids and you are both working hard to plant these trees, it's... exciting because you know and they know you're doing something that's going to have future positive impacts on them and the school and community," said Cole. "Just thinking about how every tree is going to help their future was really humbling and exciting all at the same time."