Many young people have participated in the MCF Environmental Leadership and Learning programme over the past few years. Nkululeko Mdladla is one of them.
Midlands Conservancies Forum (MCF) believes that in order to protect precious eco-systems and the goods and services that they provide to society, it is important to educate and inspire learners to understand and value them. Rather than reinventing the wheel, MCF partner with the Midlands Meander Association Education Project (MMAEP) and the KZN Crane Foundation (KZNCF) to strengthen environmental learning in the region. Through our wide network, we are often able to connect worthy individuals to learning opportunities, bursaries and sponsorships which support our aims. We intend that limited resources are used to build capacity where it is most likely to succeed.
Last month, Nkululeko was invited to do a presentation at the Eco-Schools mini-conference where his enthusiasm captured the attention of Juanita Naidoo of eduSOIL. He has since been invited to represent South Africa at the Be The Change (BTC) Youth Conference in India! This event is hosted and sponsored by Design For Change, the global education reform movement that eduSOIL Education is in partnership with. Nkululeko will receive a $500 travel grant to attend the BTC Conference and the Midlands Conservancies Forum are funding other costs through their Environmental Learning and Leadership Programme which is supported by N3TC.
Nkululeko writes about his Eco-Journey
Recently, I did something for the first time. I delivered a presentation to the Eco-Schools mini-Conference held in Westville. I discovered that speaking in public is not that hard, when you are talking about something that is close to your heart. The presentation was about the environmental work my old school, Shea O’Connor Combined, had done for the past 10 years.
I began back in 2005 when we were still in Grade 4. We started a garden, with help from the Midlands Meander Education Project (MMAEP). The garden was a huge success and before we knew it, we had created gardens all over the school grounds. The gardens were helpful to the school because the vegetables were used by the school kitchen to feed the learners.
The principal, Mr Sokhela, was so amazed and motivated by the good job we did in the garden that he started a garden right in front of his office. He turned the flower bed into a vegetable bed, full of spinach and peas!
The thing that motivated us the most was that at the end of the year we would get awards like the Green flag, trophies and certificates to reward our hard work. In 2010 we were awarded with the big International Green flag. We were very proud and honoured – this was a huge achievement.
We formed an Eco-Committee that taught other learners how to create gardens, how to take care of the environment and keep it clean and safe. Since I became part of Eco-Schools it changed my perspective about the environment. I started to care about it and I saw the beauty in nature.
We joined the March for Climate Justice at COP 17 in Durban. This was an amazing experience, meeting people from all over South Africa and the world.
We had a lot of trips that were fun and educational, organised by the MMAEP and the Midlands Conservancies Forum. In one of the trips we went to Hlatikulu to learn about cranes and wetlands, where we met a Crowned Crane named Boston. We fell in love with Boston and our school adopted her to provide food for her.
Over the years, our school has done a lot, it has been a long and enjoyable learning journey. Now I am starting on a new journey. I realise that small steps can take you places, you must just start. I am inspired by other organisations I have met recently like DUCT and Singakwenza. I realise that a few people who really care about something can make a big difference in the world. I will be attending the Be the Change conference in India in September with young people from around the world. I am sure that I can make a difference in my community.
Would you like to play your part in helping this young man to “Be the Change”? You have an opportunity of doing just that, by joining the fundraising efforts to assist him to make the most of this opportunity. To see how, go to http://www.youcaring.com/nkulu