While Qatar celebrated its Environment Day on February 26, the tending and caring for the environment spans all the calendar year for Kenyan expat Zacchaeus Njuguna and his band of good Samaritans – the Green Maasai Troupe.
Njuguna, who is often at the forefront of his community’s events and also helms the Green Maasai Troupe, says, “The environment and its safeguarding is the responsibility of each and every one of us. We have to understand this simple truth as we must co-exist harmoniously with it, and can’t be at odds with it.”
This means that for Njuguna, environmental awareness drives and meets are a recurring affair. For Qatar’s National Sport Day last month, Njuguna, who works with a catering service company as a waiter, had his friends from the Kenyan community gather and adopt the Mottainai! (Japanese term meaning do not waste) campaign “around the elimination of waste plastic from the environment through advocacy and educational seminars.”
“I believe by taking small steps regularly, we can achieve something big in the long run,” Njuguna says, “Our mantra has always been – reduce, reuse and recycle. We educate communities on the need to reuse plastic bags, reduce the use of plastic by promoting alternatives such as sisal, fabric and biodegradable paper bags, recycle and weave plastic bags into useful products, and dispose of waste responsibly to prevent further environmental pollution.”
Staying true to the spirit of Sport Day, at the gathering, the Green Maasai Troupe also showed how one can make nicely bound footballs purely by using plastic bags. Moreover, the mostly similar awareness campaign was later shared during the Environment Day on February 26.
To bring in the Earth Hour on March 19, Njuguna gathered his fellow Kenyan community members at Al Arabi Park and held a group discussion about global warming, shared posters that advocated switching off lights and using electricity judiciously, and the community even shared its pro-environment views on social media.
That wouldn’t be the end of it. For Njuguna and the Green Maasai Troupe, the spate of environment awareness activities is an ongoing story. To celebrate World Water Day that falls on March 22, the group met again to discuss and share ideas to minimise water consumption. “We had printed messages such as ‘Water means Job’ and ‘Conserve Water, Conserve Life’ and shared it so that all of us could paste them at our accommodation so that others could pick from this as well. We spoke about how we must not take too much time in the shower and always remember to turn off taps when not using them.”
For Njuguna and his friends, this is just one of many noble and creative deeds. Called Turning waste into art, a bottle cap art project was thought up by Njuguna and two other Kenyan expats living in Qatar, Peter Kimani and Gabriel Kamiti. At QP’s Environment Fair, they made murals of animals, fishes and birds using plastic bottle caps, and created a mural that raises environmental awareness using 60,000 caps, in collaboration with the Solid Waste Interest Group (SWIG) of the Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), among many others.
Njuguna is greatly influenced by Wangari Maathai – Kenyan environmentalist, founder of the Green Belt Movement (GBM), and the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Last September, to mark her third death anniversary, Njuguna and some other Kenyans in Mesaieed planted trees to continue her legacy. Njuguna, a member of GBM which has planted more than 51 million trees in Kenya, had initiated the tree-planting drive at Mesaieed.
“Maathai had said that if we continue destroying our environment, nature will never forgive us. Be it climate change, soil erosion, pollution, or global warming, I have seen that happen. We are the ones causing it. But I try to show people that we are also the ones who have the solution,” Njuguna says.
DISCUSSION: The Green Maasai group discusses water conservation last week, on World Water Day.