So it begins… Rally, news coverage, COP17 accreditation, visits & Occupy!

This is going to be a monster post, so please find your favourite beverage and take a comfortable seat for the excitement that follows!:

Interfaith Rally

We had all been really looking forward to the culmination of our petitioning efforts, and the chance to present our success to the Archbishop, and hear him speak at our final concert in Durban, at the gigantic Kings Park Stadium.

We attended the COY on Saturday morning, where I set up the photo petition, and got people excited about our campaign.

The caravan team also sang at the end of the main morning session!

The caravan crew then took a packed lunch and drove over to KP for rehearsal of our parts in the concert. We had a lot of time sitting around and waiting, as could be expected for an event of this scale, as various logistics were mapped out on the ground.

The stage and the stands were very impressive, but I was somewhat anxious about the size of crowd we would actually draw to this event. Unfortunately my suggestions of “rallying for the rally” in town were dismissed, and we were left hoping and praying at the end of the day that this enormous arena wouldn’t be looking too bare on Sunday!

In the evening, I had my first night at Glenmore, and it was a real blessing to sleep in a bed! I met with many of the other Youth for Eco-Justice participants, and the organisers for a hot meal in the dining room, and had the evening to orientate, get to know people, and sort out my washing (which was plentiful, after the long weeks on the road with minimal facilities and time).

Sunday came, and we began the day with prayer groups, an interactive and reflective ice-breaker, and a worship song, all of which I volunteered to prepare for day 1, as the person originally on the list had not yet arrived. We broke off into discussion groups to explore the model community presented in Acts 2:42-47 by the early Apostles which I found to be very inspirational:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the break and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together at the temple, they broke break at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

The morning programme progressed, as we got to know each other and the place we would be staying for the next 2 weeks, but at coffee break I was itching to get back to the University, where I had left my campaigning materials at the COY. So Thea, one of the Durbanites, kindly drove me round the block to collect those things, allowing the following events to pan out:

1) Super-speedy banner painting!

2) Walking across the main arena in front of the stage at the concert

3) Being covered by the news as “Desmond’s Durban Deal-makers!”

Coverage by South Africa’s national SABC News

The “Second Ark of Noah” was carried out onto the rugby pitch, and opened to reveal the ~200,000 petitions we had collected, and lifting out the oversized poster-petition to present to Desmond Tutu on stage!

There was much celebration and dancing along to local and national artists as the afternoon continued. People were signing each other’s T-shirts, and gathering for many small group photos.  

Eventually it began to rain, the Archbishop left, and people began to trickle away.

 At the end of the conference, I joined the truck going to Durban International Conference Centre (ICC), the venue of COP17, where I miraculously collected a badge to enter the conference, since WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) had a free accredited space at the last minute!
The next morning began with talks and presentations on Climate Change and water, and microgeneration, which was v interesting.

The Norwegians left for the mall and the airport early in the morning, and I said goodbye to Anders and Kristian, presenting the final diploma for excellent campaigning and petitioning skills to Kristian:

More presentations, indicating the successes of solar lamps and microhydro projects in India, very relevant to my work with Renewable World.

The group broke in two for exposure visits to experience and learn about local community projects. This group was clearing some land for a vegetable garden, and the area had a really moving story about the environmental impact of pollutants coming down the river from the local plastics factory, which I will try to report  in more detail later…

Bottles, card and cans were being collected to take to recycling, to earn a small amount of money to contribute to the project, and also to clear up the rubbish in their area, that was being thrown on the land.

Unfortunately, gardening had to take place behind barbed wire, otherwise the vegetables would have been stolen and the area trashed and damaged:

I was excited to see solar water heating installed on some of the houses in the community.

The local kindergarten/creche sang some traditional songs for us, including “He’s got the whole world in his hands”, which was beautiful.

In the afternoon, I went along to OccupyCOP17, which I’ll tell more about later. This was really inspiring, to see activists assembling outside the ICC.

Some commited members of the caravan sang the “We Have Faith” song, that had gone down so well at the COY!

Our final message to the world is “Keep the oil in the soil and the coal in the hole”.


One response to “So it begins… Rally, news coverage, COP17 accreditation, visits & Occupy!

  1. Heather Clarksen

    Great post Claire =))
    Really inspiring!
    Keep strong, you and everyone else are doing amazing work!

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