Category Archives: UKYCC

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”.


Arrival in Durban!

Arrival to Durban in photos…

The Climate Train team, and presentation of trees to the Gauteng regional politicians.

Exhibitor of renewable technology coming into Africa – solar phone/torch/radio systems and a fan-stove assisted by solar power!

Police escort leading us through Johannesburg and onwards!

Kristian bought a clockwork train with some sweets at the rest stop, which caused quite a lot of amusement!

We arrived into Durban late at night and the Norwegian team split off from the main group at the campsite to go to their accommodation.

In the morning, the African alliance, South Africa YMCA and I went to the main branch of Durban YMCA, where we prepared for the arrival of the other 3 trucks and prepared for the lunchtime workshop on Climate Change that we would be running for our group and the local greater Durban YMCA groups – a productive interactive session, but cut short due to the late arrival of the trucks.

In the afternoon, Tensing went to soundcheck, and Rufus from the SAYMCA team led the Y-zone for children aged 8-10. Alpha (from the organising committee) and I decided to head over the UKZN (University of KwaZulu-Natal) to track down Winnie and the team preparing for the Conference of Youth (COY7) running this weekend. Sadly, we missed most of them, but we did bump into the SABC news team, who seemed fascinated by our story! We’re hoping that will be followed up, but they eventually decided not to give us the 3 minute TV slot they had spare for Sunday night, which was a great shame.

We then headed back on a local minibus transport, which was a bit of a disaster! – The van dropped us in the region of one of the other YMCA branches (Beatrice Street) and we had quite a walk to get there, only to find that it wasn’t the main branch! We thankfully had phone credit to call Sipo from central Durban YMCA, and he was able to send someone to collect us and take us on to the evening YMCA concert…

Tensing do an AMAZING set at the SA-YMCA-led concert at Fortress of Hope Church! There was some fantastic dancers, singers and speakers. We had an evening of joy, celebration and a great Climate Justice focus! – a very successful event.

The concert was called Sounds of the Earth 🙂

In the morning, we headed straight to the 7th Conference of Youth at UKZN. We were still trying to negotiate better accommodation, since there is more rain expected. It has been difficult staying at the campsite 20 minutes out of Durban, leaving early and arriving late, when we know that others of our group and most other youth organisations have some hostel accommodation in the city. But it looks like everything is going to fall through, due to the complications with pre-booking through the tour company. We will persevere for now! I am very grateful to be mocing to join the Youth for Eco-Justice programme today, after the second day of COY, and I will be staying in the lovely Glenmore Pastoral Centre with a few of the Norwegians tonight, before they leave tomorrow. I hope it will be a good last evening for them…

We spotted some local wildlife at the University when we arrived in the morning for the COY.

“The wealth of South Africa will be measured by its ideals, its institutions, its faith, its justice, its standards of public and private life and its development of literature, art and science.”

The 7th Conference of Youth!! (COY7) 😀

I met the UKYCC delegation, many other young people from around the world, we heard some very inspiring and informative speakers and participated in workshops together during the afternoon.

Caravan participants took the opportunity to update their blogs and social media, and check emails about the national youth strategies and negotiating positions, in preparation for the COP. Within the youth, there is a strong consolidated position overall, but even between some countries, we see that people are pushing for slightly different demands.

In our policy group in the evening, we discussed how the caravan group would be an excellent platform for bringing together global youth, since we have a very strong position with many voices already behind it, from our campaign and petitioning through Africa. I think that if we can lead a very strong message, then others will plug into the actions and demonstrations that we organise, very easily.

I can’t wait for the COP to begin on Monday! But equally, the second day of COY today, and the Interfaith Rally tomorrow will be just as exciting, with Desmond Tutu, the SA Foreign Minister (chair of the COP) and bands such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo!

Today, I hope to link with more youth and find out more about people’s plans for action around the UN negotiations. There is a small chance I may still be able to acquire accreditation to enter the main conference hall on week two (the “high content” week) from 5th December, under WAGGGS, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts – which would be actually extremely appropriate for me, since I was a Rainbow, Brownie, Guide, Ranger, Young Leader and unit helper in GirlGuiding UK!

I am also really looking forward to meeting the Y4EJ (Youth for Eco-Justice) participants this evening – 30 other inspired young Christian Environmentalists from around the world. I hope that I’ll be able to find time to compromise between my commitments to Y4EJ, We Have Faith, UKYCC and WAGGGS, as soon as everything kicks off on Monday! All I can say is that I’m going to keep myself busy to make the youth position as influential as possible, through whatever means I can during the programme I am undertaking with the World Council of Churches over the next 2 weeks of the COP.

I hope that I will still have enough time to blog, even if it has to be on a taxi between Glenmore/UKZN and the ICC, the main conference centre where the UN meeting will be held. I hope to hear from you soon, if you have any comments or questions about the COP.

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Church, mall & S.A. border!

Hi, just a quick post for now – we’re in Pretoria and heading on to Durban very bright and early tomorrow.

After Gaberone evening concert, we had an early start and headed to the local church on Sunday, where there was a really animated and passionate service on Climate Justice. Africans sure know how to sing and praise the Lord! I have never heard such a deep-reaching, heart-wrenching sermon, or met people so friendly and welcoming as that congregation – really overwhelmed by the experience.

I had another chance to say my bit about the UK perspective, as all the countries introduced themselves. I really enjoyed the spontaneity and inclusiveness of the service – it was truly inspirational.

In the afternoon, we did a short petition drive at the (relatively quiet) local mall, got some more photo petitions, and had a chance to pick up some supplies from the shops (always more pens required, it seems!)

Yesterday, we had a long drive day, crossing the border to South Africa, which was problematic, as expected, for Prince from DR Congo, but thankfully he eventually secured his visa, by a stroke of genius from our Norwegian friends, and all the Africans made it into the hardest country to access on the continent, for which we are all very grateful!

It really feels like we are closing in on the COP now. Excitement is really rising in the camp. Today, we *almost* had the change to meet the incoming president of the UNFCCC (the S.A. Minister for Environment), but after spending the morning thoroughly preparing, she was unfortunately called away due to pressing family issues, so we missed this fantastic opportunity. Nevertheless, it had been a really good bonding session for the policy group, and really excellent preparation for all of us before the UN summit. We are becoming more and more familiar with the terms of the negotiations, and confident in our own position, message and voice that we want to send clearly on behalf of the youth of Africa to our world leaders. We also met with the South African “Climate Train” today and had some more speeches to listen to and presentations to regional officials in Gauteng province.

The evening has been busy, with many meetings, as the group will break in two again. I have managed to secure one of 3 spare places on the early YMCA trucks to Durban tomorrow morning, meaning a 5am start and a real need for sleep now! I can’t wait to finally arrive in the city of COP17 – it’s such a fantastic experience, and each stage brings me deeper into an understanding of these complex global issues, and what I can do together with networks of youth, to influence the changes that our generation needs to see.

I am off to bed now, with a full stomach after an impressive demonstration of cooking chipati over an open fire in the middle of a thunderstorm! It’s going to be a short night, but a very welcomed sleep!

400km to Gaberone

OK, hi from Botswana! 🙂 I’ll pick up where I left off at the Victoria falls, with a few photos from there…

As we approached the entrance desk, we heard rumours that there was an exceptionally small amount of water going over the falls, and that it might not be worthwhile to pay our $20US entry fee to get in. Locals were saying that even at this time of year, the falls used to be full with water, but in recent years, they’ve almost entirely dried up at some times of year, which is very concerning.

Kristian did the crazy bungee jump!

Rising temperatures here in Africa are drying up rivers and agricultural land everywhere, and the impacts are evident in the communities we pass through – stark barren fields, where crops used to grow; scorched frames of trees and shrivelled shrubs, barely clinging to the deeply cracked soil. Some areas ofZambia were greener, since the rains are finally arriving, but it is difficult to imagine the struggle through the driest times in these regions.

Bottled water is only available in the big cities, and we have had our work cut out to stay stocked up on this, and stay hydrated. The truck gets oven-hot during the day, and often opening the windows only brings in hotter air from outside.

After the Falls, we had a short drive to our last campsite in Zambia, just outside Livingstone. We rejoined the concert team, and were delighted to hear the success of the event! Faith leaders and ministers had attended, and the programme was very well-received by a large crowd. The campsites are beginning to blur into one, as we arrive late and pass on early in the morning to the next place. Some are more basic and some have extra facilities or leisure features, which offers the difficult choice of whether to take time to use them, or get the early night we all need!

Reception in Livingstone:

Dipping our feet in the pool at Elephant Sands after a long day:

In the morning, leaving at 6am, we headed for the Botswana border. The crossing was quite an adventure, as we had to take our 6 trucks over the great Zambezi River, on what was little more than a small metal floating platform, with two make-shift hydro turbines on either side, shaking and chugging out black fumes, as they fought to stir and churn enough water to get the “ferry” moving. Just to add to the tense uncertainty, we spotted another ferry just off the far shore (about 150m away) with a large articulated lorry hanging off the back into the water. Burly men tried to organise the loading of 2 of our trucks and some smaller vehicles, and a rowdy shouting match broke out in the local dialect, about whether another small lorry could be let on. While this was being drawn out, the white lorry had already spun and heaved its wheels onto the rickety boarding platform and was edging onward. Thankfully, it was eventually required to reverse off (a wise decision for the already overloaded vessel!) but managed to get its wheels stuck in the rut where the landing ramp didn’t meet very convincingly with the shore… After some more minutes, most of our group boarded as foot passengers, and we nervously made the crossing, trying to avert our gaze from the half-sunken lorry/ferry wreckage near the far shore. I spent the short crossing casting my mind pleasantly back to the Corran Ferry near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, where I had worked last year. I visualised the crisp white paint and gentle chug of the boat, gliding in an arc towards the majestic Ardgour lighthouse. Sadly, the thought of crocodiles was still all too close to the front of my mind to be comfortable! As we reached the far shore, I spotted a small dugout canoe being skilfully steered through the shallows, and I considered the contrast between the natural impression given by the native paddler and the stark unnatural reality of the fuming scrap-metal engineering disaster, parting the oil-slicked waters we had just travelled. And we wonder at how humans have such a propensity for environmental destruction!

We journeyed on into Botswana which was much flatter than any country yet – it seemed like the one road would stretch round the whole world, as it darted towards the distant hazy horizon. We stopped for some time at a shopping centre to wait for the other trucks which had boarded on a later ferry. Unfortunately, there were some technical problems that had to be repaired before they made it across, so it was well after lunchtime before we left the small town where we had been waiting. I managed to send off a couple of postcards, and change some currency, but everyone was impatient to get back on the road. With this long delay, we had to arrange to stay at a different campsite last night. Coincidentally, instead of going on to the “Rhino Sanctuary” we stopped at a beautiful open site called Elephant Sands, where we saw several huge African Elephants during the evening. There was a chance to charge

electronics, which was welcomed by all. We enjoyed a very nice dinner from our chef, Peter (and our sub-group was helping with food prep today): soup and crusty bread followed by a lovely mince and veg stew. The evening meeting brought the news that today would be a 3am start. It was a struggle dragging ourselves out of bed after only a few hours of light sleep, to strike camp and leave without breakfast, as we try to make up the lost time of yesterday. We should be stopping for breakfast at around 9am, and then heading on all the way to Gaberone for the concert this afternoon…. more on this later! 🙂


Into Zambia…

We left Lilongwe bright and early (4am!) to head towards the Zambian border and Chipata, which would be our first stop in Zambia. A huge reception awaited us at the border, including a full marching band and an excited crowd shouting greetings. The temperatures are still soaring here, so I stayed in the bus to film the passing procession. I will try to upload some of these larger videos soon.

We arrived at Mamarula campsite in Chipata in the early afternoon, which was nice and shady, with lots of trees and grass, to make a pleasant change from the hot brown mud of previous sites. Some of us took a brief nap to re-energise after the early start and long drive. Then some of us including Tensing Norway, headed to te big church in Chipata for the first (smaller) concert in Zambia, and to meet the faith leaders. The concert was totally amazing, the highlight for me being a theatre piece calling for climate action by a 3 very talented Zambian thespians. They were just so animated and had an excellent script which really came to life on the stage. I also enjoyed some traditional Zambian drumming and dancing that was performed for the congregation/audience in the church. It was a beautiful building: modern, but high-ceilinged, with many brightly coloured stained glass windows, and interesting echoey acoustics, which were perfect for the drumming and some of the music! It was a honour to shake hands with the key speaker from the church, and to meet and greet other local people from this faith community, and others who had come just for the concert. Even in tiredness, the dedicated group who made it to this small event were able to have some great conversations on Climate Justice, sign a few petitions and leave our message. We left feeling very moved by such a strong atmosphere and commitment from everyone present. It was a delight to see the passion and efforts of this faith group in Zambia, as they joined our concert performers (Tensing) to communicate the impacts and collective responsibility of Climate Change.

The following day, we drove on to Lusaka, 600km away. Driving is getting to be a familiar exhaustion for us all now! But Durban draws closer and closer and the petitions are stacking higher and higher every mile 🙂 The journey took us on windy roads through the hills and across rivers, over bridges that allowed only one vehicle at a time. When we eventually arrived in Lusaka, we were met by more of the Zambian campaign team at one of the main shopping malls. We were covered live on Zambian national news, some speeches were given, and of course, we did some more petitioning! We headed on to Eureka campsite in the early evening, and thankfully had a few hours for rest and relaxation before bed. I even had time to play my flute for a little while round the fire in the evening, which was a real joy, in the cool of the evening. 

That night, we had our first huge thunderstorm, as the rainy season hits Zambia. Floods will be frequent in the country at this time of year, and good irrigation of land is essential. Unfortunately, not everyone had pitched their tents adequately (or under a tree, like ours!) so there were many wet, soggy campers, mats and sleeping bags in the morning, which put a dampener on our spirits on the concert day, but the team is still smiling and pushing on!

In hindsight, I should have spent the morning on camp with the majority of others, but part of me was raring to go, and there were a few things I wanted to pick up in the mall, like more pens and duct tape – invaluable campaigning tools! So I headed off with the Canadian/American media team soon after breakfast, to the CRWRC office in Lusaka, with their kind representative here. We picked up some more airtime and other essentials at the shops and then attempted to use the internet and get some more files uploaded. Thankfully, Ryan managed to upload two of his brilliant videos, which I will link here as soon as I find out their location on vimeo! This was quite a feat, since we were uploading 100s of MBs over the unpredictable Airtel modem connection. We got my unlocked modem working for Ruth as well, who stayed at the office during the afternoon, while the rest of us headed on to the big Lusaka concert… 

This, the main event for Zambia, was a complete contrast to the effective and moving Climate Change concert we had had in Chipata only a day before. Unfortunately, the organisers of the programme hadn’t put the principles or message of the Climate Justice campaign at the centre of the event. So it turned into a bit more of a teenage binge party, all a bit too close to resembling the UK’s Carling festival weekend, with the big-name bands drawing in large crowds of youths, wanting to drink and dance. This was a massive disappointment for the caravan team, who had expected Climate Justice to feature as a strong message as at previous events. I hope that this hasn’t damaged the public face of our campaign, with significant national media coverage again, here in Zambia. In spite of this hiccough, we still managed to collect a significant number of written and photo petitions, so our demands for Durban were at least being communicated on the ground in the large crowd the event had drawn in, making up for their absence from the main proceedings on the stage.

Later in the evening, we were invited to the house of the NCA (Norwegian Church Aid) director’s house in Zambia, where a celebratory buffet and drinks had been prepared for us. Spirits were mixed after a mixed day with disputed degrees of success. A few tears of anger were shed by the central caravan team, at an inappropriate act that had been included in the concert programme, but now it’s time to move on, and look forward to Livingstone and beyond.

We’re back on the road again today, striking camp at 5am, and heading towards our next and final (smaller) concert in Zambia, before crossing the border to Botswana tomorrow. We’re going to redouble our efforts today at putting engagement with Climate Change where it should be as the top priority on our agenda. Sadly, some of us are getting significantly tired and fairly unwell, at this stage of the journey. I think that Zambia has been the most ambitious and challenging country yet, with a programme of 3 concerts in 3 days prepared for us. Now the sensible thing to do would be not to attend the optional concert in Livingstone this afternoon, but I am dying to meet Maggie – one of the other (of only 30) participants on the Youth for Eco-Justice programme in Durban! It’s really exciting to me that she has been involved in organising the Livingstone concert, and that we have already been in communication about Youth for Eco-Justice. It’s almost like a friendly face, and a familiar enthusiasm, from someone who I know is on exactly the same page as me when it comes to Faith and Climate Action. So that will be today.

The solar panel is still going strong on the truck, as the sun beats down on the left-hand-side window… Zambia is so huge, but the population is small, and concentrated in a few places, so we’re seeing a lot of wild places, mountains and forests, which is beautiful. It is unfamiliar not to see many villages dotted along the road, as in other countries. It really is true wilderness! I would love to come back to Africa to explore more of these places for a more extended time. I feel like this is a bit of an introduction to the continent as a whole, which may be followed up with returning to my favourite places from the trip. However, if Africa continues to get hotter, I don’t think anyone will be able to live in these beautiful regions… They have recorded an alarming 45 degrees centigrade recently here in Zambia, and even though we’re not close to that now in the rainy season, I’m still fighting a battle to keep enough suncream on to prevent my skin turning to reddened bark! Global warming is a stark reality here, but people cannot move far or in large numbers – there just isn’t the capacity for movement or transportation that we take for granted in the global North. Also, people have no desire to leave their homes, and the changes in temperature are stepping up slowly enough that communities are just trying to adapt. No one sleeps with blankets here any more. There are many water shortages and crop failures, but people are powerless to change the weather that falls on their land and homes, so it’s a case of dealing with it as well as they can. The majority don’t understand the human contribution to global warming, in the form of greenhouse gases, emitted by factories and power stations in distant parts of the world, but can relate to the fumes of kerosene lamps and cookers damaging their respiratory health, a concept that can be scaled up to describe the damage to the Earth.

Update: 9:15pm – Thursday 17th – Another fantastic reception with marching band and flag-wavers in Livingstone and I met the marvelous Maggie! 🙂 The group split into 2 this afternoon – half going to the concert, and half going to Victoria Falls, where some daring people did the huge bungee jump from the bridge over the gorge! More pictures of that tomorrow 🙂

This continues to be an incredibly enlightening experience for me, and spurs me on to take back ideas, information and strengthened convictions to the UK, to join with campaigners to influence a transition away our careless and harmful policies and practices, when it comes to the future – my future – on the planet. Thanks again for reading, and best wishes and greetings from the We Have Faith caravan!

Mabuya Camp – Lilongwe, Malawi – Concert 3

Last blog from Chitimba beach, then on the road again. We had a very long drive day, and arrived late in Lilongwe after a beautiful sunset, pitching the tents in the pitch black once more. Thankfully we had managed to recover our solar torches that we had left out in the sun at lunchtime to charge, only to have them carried off by local village children! My tent mate launched the rescue mission into the village and successfully retrieved all 5 stolen torches. The other excitement of the drive was a close call between our truck an another driving dangerously, which ended up with its wing mirror flying off and smashing through one of our truck’s windows, shattering it and leaving glass everywhere. We had passed a couple of accidents earlier in Tanzania, so were extremely thankful that it hadn’t been worse. We’re glad to have quite a cautious driver, although it has often meant longer days for Truck 5.

We had some good workshops on “Development is a Conversation?” and I’ve been preparing to talk a bit about alternative energy and technologies to the group on my bus. We’ve also been working on our petitioning strategy, as the campaign is growing and growing, and we are able to talk to more people and achieve a greater number of signatures and voices every day.

At Mabuya campsite in Lilongwe, the water shortage that we had seen manifested on the journey in the form of dry rivers, suddenly became a first-hand problem as people were trying to get clothes washed and take showers. The water was all gone within 45 minutes of our arrival, indicating that either we are wasteful and have no concept of water conservation, or that the campsite is really very low on their water supply at the moment. In the morning, a tanker came along with another 200Litres maybe, but even when this was divided into basins for us to use, it seemed that however careful we were, the demand was greater than the supply, leaving a few remaining smelly campers and bags of clothes.

Nevertheless, the sun was shining, and we had an exciting day ahead, driving through the town, stopping in busy districts for petitioning, passing the parliament building and finally arriving at the Civo Stadium, where we were greeted by the Malawi We Have Faith team, and began setting up for the afternoon’s concert programme. I helped to produce a second “…. Has Faith” handprint banner, an interactive activity for the school children there, in the midst of the speeches and formalities. We also blew up some balloons that I had brought from the UK and through them into the crowd before the ceremony began, which caused some excitement!

The local faith leaders and Minister for Energy & Environment for Malawi came to address us, which was very engaging and interesting. We also joined with many local bands and artists for the concert programme, leading to a very successful day. Thousands gathered towards the later afternoon, and petition-signing flourished. I got over 300 photo petitions, and Kristian, on Truck 5, achieved over 500 written petition cards! I think we must have surpassed 10,000 signatures again as a group, which was impressive, since we had less of a crowd than in Nairobi. It was a long day on our feet, but campaigning with background of good music and an enthusiastic crowd is always good fun!

Thankfully it was possible to borrow a local modem to upload the first batch of the photo petitions for today to These can also be viewed in a slideshow on the HAVE FAITH:ACT NOW page on this website 🙂

The evening was full of good conversation, as the team was inspired and brought closer together by another successful concert day. We met as a group for some singing, and the amazing Namakhaya led us in some traditional South African songs with her beautiful and powerful gospel-like voice. All-in-all, I am going to bed very contented and empowered by the growing voice of Africa on Climate Justice. I don’t know whether we will reach our target of collecting one million voices, but we received 40,000 from the Malawi team today, which were presented to the caravan on the stage at the stadium. I think whatever the number of thousands of petitions is that we hand over in Durban, it will certainly be a strong message from communities in Africa to our world governments and UN policy-makers. I am looking forward to tomorrow, and the new opportunities and experiences that the day will bring!

Iringa Old Farmhouse Camp & Chitimba Beach

A couple of really nice drive days! Tanzania is such a very beautiful place 🙂 We enjoyed the scenery out of the windows, and the coolness of being at higher altitude in Iringa. Some of the African participants found the UK-type temperatures a little on the chilly side… The Old Farmhouse Camp was a tranquil minimalistic site, with3  clean, stone-built long drop toilets, lit by candles at night, and 3 surprisingly nicely-tiled showers heated by an oven-fire water system, which we had to keep burning as the 160 travellers welcomed a warm wash 🙂

During the long hours of driving, we did some activities to get to know each other better, and to understand a bit better each other’s connections to Climate Change. Truck 5 (Nyota!*) has a very diverse mix of people from Ole, the Masai, to researchers from Norway and the UK. The most inspiring story for me came from Winnie Asiti, the infamous Kenyan Climate Activist (, KYCN, AYICC). She told of how the region which flourished as she grew up has over the years been devastated by deforestation, diminishing resources, and food and water shortages. Now what she knew as a rich, thriving landscape when she was young is bleak and barren. This moved Winnie to study Environmental Science, attend the UNFCCC COP12 (Nairobi) and COP15 (Copenhagen), and get seriously involved in Climate Activism – making big efforts, nationally and internationally to slow and halt the degradation of her natural world… She is the most friendly and caring girl, and an excellent speaker, with such clarity and passion, and has achieved so much for someone only a little older than me. She has great respect from national politicians, and is accredited to attend the COP17 main conference, which recognises her competence at an international level! I know that with people like Winnie, our campaign will succeed in making a huge influence on global climate policy and the treaty we are calling for. I am looking forward to hearing and writing about other life stories from people here.

Beautiful sunset on the first night, as we discussed how solar power could become more prevalent in Africa:

As we crossed the border from Tanzania into Malawi, we were shocked to see more than 5 of the large rivers, that should be running into Lake Malawi, completely dry… the lake’s waters are shrinking away from the shores, and the communities are noticing the land drying up further around the lake. This means that the rich banana, mango and orange plantations we see around will no longer be sustained, and the region’s food and trade will plummet, leaving people empty-handed and deeper into poverty and struggling to support themselves.

As the sun was setting, we arrived into Chitimba camp, and set up the tents… I took a brief tour of the campsite after a satisfying dinner of tomato soup & bread, followed by spaghetti with Ugali (sp?). But I found all the charging points, and showers taken, so wandered back to camp and crashed out in the still-slightly damp tent…

We woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise over the shores of the lake, refreshing showers, and bright smiles. Here are some of my favourite impressions of the morning:

Today, we have a drive day to Lilongwe and then the concert there tomorrow and our third brig campaigning opportunity. I’m going to use today to try to mobilise my bus to be able to gather as many petitions as possible. In the meantime, please keep signing the online petition at! Thanks! Claire x

*meaning star in Swahili