Meet SDG Advocate Constance Utsale

It’s #MeetYourOFFAdvocate Wednesday! And today we are excited to chat with Ms Constance Chifuniro Utsale. Let’s get to know her take on SDGs and the future!

Hi Constance! Can you please tell us something about you — what you do, why and how are you involved with OFF?

I am an environmentalist currently working for Central East African Railways who would also like to become an environmental and development specialist. I graduated from the University of Malawi Polytechnic with a degree in Environmental Science and Technology-Environment Management. I love jogging and going to the gym just to keep my health in check. In OFF I am the Administrative and Financial lead as well as an enthusiastic advocate for the youth. I am passionate about action towards climate change as well as achieving sustainable cities and communities. The repercussions of climate change are very visible from the drought in Balaka to floods in Lilongwe districts. Our cities are far from being ecofriendly with their overuse of natural resources to produce the needed energy to around 11% of Malawi’s population which is problematic. I found it wise to join Our Fresh Futurez because it holds the same zeal I have towards alleviating all these problems for a prosperous tomorrow.

Wow — very insightful! Well, if you had all the money in this world, what SDG — choose only one — would you work on?

🙂 Everyone may have a solid reason for not preferring “Goal 1: No poverty”, but I’ll stick to my guns on this one. This goal incorporates all the sustainable development goals meaning it is all hands on deck! From ensuring sustainable cities and communities, clean water and sanitation to the rest of the SDGs. It just calls to me.

Nice one we definitely can’t argue with you on that! Now — OFF is about inspiring local citizen action towards sustainability and the SDGs, what words of inspiration do you have to fellow youth out there?

Every decision you make in life for selfless reasons is like going through an underground tunnel. Dark and unpleasant as it may seem at the current time, the future is much brighter. So, let’s be selfless together in achieving the SDGs for the benefit of the current and future generations.

Very wise words Constance! So who’s the one person — not from your family — who has inspired your life or career so far?

The Kenyan founder of the Green Belt Movement, Wangari Maathai, was just amazing! Her movement incorporated ecofeminism with community development to combat deforestation among other problems. In the 1970’s according to the census undertaken there were more women than men, as is also the case in Malawi. So, Wangari was able to use these statistics to her advantage in trying to combat soil erosion and desertification in Kenya. She was the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

A well deserving Nobel Laureate indeed. Finally, would you share with us your motto in life or the quote that you live by?

“Keep the fire burning”, words of motivation from my former principle, Mrs. Da Cruz, at Our Lady of Wisdom Secondary School to her students. These words may sound very simple, but they hold a powerful meaning. All other factors being equal, these insightful words molded me into the person I currently am, ever persistent in achieving my goals.

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Meet SDG Advocate Brian Kalimbuka

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of #MeetYourOFFAdvocate! Today we have Mr M-high who is officially known as Brian Kalimbuka. Here’s how our chat went:

Can you please tell us something about Brian, what do you do, why and how are you involved with OFF?

Brian in brief is an environmental chemist with knowledge in quality, health, safety and evironmental management systems. A graduate of the Malawi Polytechnic who has a passion in ensuring a sustainable environment. I have always been a team player and it is through this that I met people with a similar passion of ensuring a comprehensive sustainable future and this gave birth to OFF. In OFF I am currently championing Chingini cha SDGs an SDG advocacy campaign targeting the youth who are key in ensuring a sustainable tomorrow. I also double as the projects and innovation lead.

If you had all the money in this world, what SDG – choose only one – would you work on?

Only one eish! I’d be quite confused. But as someone with a keen interest in reducing pollution in the environment, I think Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

Cool nice one! Well, OFF is about inspiring local citizen action towards sustainability and the SDGs, what words of inspiration do you have to fellow youth out there?

I was once told that the best time to plant a tree was thirty years ago or now for future use; meaning sustainability is a continuous process and as youth, the burden of ensuring this great cause of achieving sustainability and the SDGs is on us being the leaders of today and tomorrow. We’ve got the energy, the power, great minds and we are connected in this global village; I would say we have everything to initiate change.

Alright. Next – Who’s the one person – not from your family – who has inspired your life or career so far?

Nelson Madiba Mandela, his perseverance and personality is quite an inspiration – since you asked for one. But also James Wakibia in Kenya is another inspiration, and locally Namadingo, Mlaka and Lawi: These guys’ music inspires me in the sense that I think alot when I listen to their good music.

Great! Lastly – would you share with us your motto in life or the quote that you live by?

“No man is an island” – That’s it. A jack of all trades is a master at all if he has a team. In short a good team is key!

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Meet SDG Advocate Lovemore Mzati Nkhalamba

It’s a Wednesday and you know what time it is – #MeetYourOFFAdvocate day! Today we meet Lovemore Nkhalamba also known as Mzati.

Here’s how our little chat with him went:

Who is Lovemore? Can you please tell us something about yourself, what you do and why you are involved with OFF?

I think Lovemore is alot of things. Can’t say I’ve fully discovered myself completely yet but in a nutshell am an environmental scientist, a food scientist and an aspiring epidemiologist. I’m a creative (I write, I sing and I do a bit of photography), and I enjoy working with teams. I am currently interning with the Ministry of health at their Public Health Lab in Area 3. I joined OFF because I believe in it’s vision and goals which I believe aligns well with my own personal life goals.

Fantastic! If you had all the money in this world, what SDG – choose only one – would you work on?

I’d choose SDG 3 without any hesitation. Haha tilongosole why ngati (should I explain why)?

Yes, of course!

Haha alright. I have always been interested in the health sector from a young age. I believe that good health is an essential, if not the most essential aspect to any form of sustainable development at any level. The 3rd SDG is a perfect expression of what needs to be done in our socities and communities if we really are going to achieve accessible health for all.

Well said Lovemore! Now – since OFF is about inspiring local citizen action towards sustainability and the SDGs, do you have any words of inspiration to fellow youth out there?

Yes, I do. As young people, we are blessed with the gift of so much energy and enthusiasm. My words are that let us use these for good and to initiate change in our sphere, however small. The various SDGs provide a platform where which young people can champion this.

Young people are really gifted in many ways 🙂

Who’s the one person – not from your family – who has inspired your life or career so far?

I have always been inspired from childhood by Dr Ben Carson’s story. It’s a beautiful story of the power of not giving up, being resilient in pursuing one’s dream and the strength of having the right people around you.

Lastly – would you share with us your motto in life or the quote that you live by?

My motto in life is adapted from the US Marines’ motto: “Simper Fidelis” which is Latin for Always Faithful. My favorite quote is by Marianne Williamson from her book ‘work and personal power.’ It says “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us the most. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

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Meet SDG Advocate Memory Lucy Mtambo

It’s time to meet the people behind Our Fresh Futurez (OFF)! Over the next few weeks, every Wednesday will be a “meet your OFF advocate” day, and we are excited to start off this act with Memory. Here we go!

Hi Memory! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, what you do and your involvement with OFF?

So, I am a Physiotherapist by profession. I graduated from College of Medicine in June 2017. I am interested in uplifting the lives of my fellow Malawians specially the youth. And Our Fresh Futurez is doing exactly that by focusing on educating the grassroots about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of which its attainment is encompassing the improvement of every individual. I believe I joined the right platform and am looking forward to working with all of you as a team.

Great! If you had all the money in this world, what SDG would you work on?

Being a health worker and a “She” it’s obvious I should have preferences (among SDGs): SDG 3 – good health and well being; SDG 5 – gender equality; SDG 1 – no poverty; and SDG 4 – quality education.

Alright – OFF is about inspiring local citizen action towards sustainability and the SDGs; do you have any words of inspiration to fellow youth out there?

the time for the youth to start doing meaningful developmental impacts is now, not tomorrow, not in the future. Let us all be responsible youth and before we blame anyone, let’s ask ourselves what positive impact we have brought in our communities to make life better for ourselves and others.

Those are wise words Memory! Moving on. Who’s the one person – not from your family – who has inspired you in life or in your career thus far?

Marie Da Silva. The Founder of Jacaranda Foundation.

Finally, would you share with us your motto in life, or the quote that you live by?

I am a Christian, CCAP by denomination and so I believe in the word of God and Jesus Christ. My motto comes from Philippians 4:13 which says “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me”. No matter the situation, I believe Christ is always ahead of me. I also believe in discipline, hardworking, self determination, team spirit as well as self-esteem.

OFF Partners with the UN’s MY World 2030

Our Fresh Futurez is proud to announce its partnership with the MY World 2030 campaign by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign. As an official MY World partner, we are bringing the campaign to Malawi. The MY World Campaign aims to help develop a dialogue between decision makers and citizens so as to contribute a ‘people’s perspective’ on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Our Fresh Futurez’s MY World Partnership will help ensure that voices of ordinary Malawians are taken into account in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals

Our Fresh Futurez will be collecting the MY World survey responses through our projects, starting with our flagship project called Chingini Cha SDGs (or ‘The Thing about SDGs’ in English). Launching this month (September 2018), Chingini Cha SDGs will involve a different approach to SDG advocacy – you’ll have to follow our forthcoming announcements to find out what the team has prepared!

The MY World 2030 campaign has been running since 2015 when the SDGs were adopted by our world leaders. Surprisingly, there were only 8 responses collected from Malawi at the time Our Fresh Futurez decided to partner with the global campaign. We hope that our partnership will help in ensuring that many Malawian voices are heard on the global stage, with regard to the global goals.

Make sure your voice is heard! Access and take part in the MY World survey by following this link: https://myworld2030.org/partner/ourfuture

Share the link above and let us ensure Malawian voices count towards achieving the SDGs!

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OSAMANGO-LUBWA-LUBWA, BEAT PLASTIC POLLUTION

The 5th of June is the World Environmental Day. This year this day will be commemorated under the theme Beat Plastic Pollution, interesting right? . You don’t have to be a magician or a trending prophet to realise that plastics have overwhelmed our environment in the Malawi and world. Walking in our markets and cities, you are usually greeted by sights of plastic bags and bottles littered around. It’s not even surprising catching one in the act of throwing away a bottle of water anyhow like it’s normal, right? Plastic pollution really deserves a beating. A continuous   battering, thrashing, thumping, pounding, pummeling, drubbing, slapping, smacking, punishment or assault on plastic pollution and all behavior lifestyles associated with it.

Plastic pollution can be simply defined as accumulation of plastics in an area that has begun to negatively impact the natural environment and create problems for plants, wildlife and even human population. Often this includes killing plant life, posing dangers to land and aquatic animal life and aesthetics. Wait a minute; this sounds familiar, remember Sustainable Development Goals number 14 and 15. (Assignment: what do the Sustainable Development Goals 14 and 15 say?)

Beating plastic pollution comes with a bonus of ensuring that these goals are met. That’s killing two birds with one stone. For the record plastics are not totally bad, plastics are an incredibly useful material, but it is also made from toxic compounds known to cause illness, and because it is meant for durability, it is not biodegradable. Imagine it takes up to 500-1000 years for plastic to degrade. Terrifying right?

 

Beating Plastic pollution is feasible. The bright side of this is that everyone can do it. It doesn’t need a medicine man to perform the exorcism. Usually in Malawi we leave issues of environmental cleanup in the hands of government. Who is the government by the way? Us right? Anyway that’s a topic for another God given day.  The issue is beating plastic pollution is simple, anyone can do it. Just grab a whip and beat it. James Wakibia is a testimony. In case you don’t know James, here is a James 101. James is a documentary photographer who grew up Nakuru, an area 150 kilometres from Nairobi, Kenya. The pollution in Nakuru compelled him to act and eventually started campaigning against single use plastics in 2015.  Wakibia has since been credited with starting the movement that led to Kenya’s nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags, which took effect in 2017. Well, I know everyone cannot become a James Wikibia, but the point is beating plastic pollution needs a comprehensive approach where everyone takes part. United we beat plastic pollution, divided we succumb to it.

Imagine a world free from plastic pollution, make it happen, it’s feasible and it begins with you. The question now is how can I beat plastic pollution? Here are the basic ways to join the beating. It starts with behavior change

  1. Reduce or replace: for example next time you go buy chips pachiwaya or any take away food store carry your own container instead of getting the food in those single use plastics that you will immediately throw away after use. Carry a cloth bag and put the plastic bags at the Shopping Till to shame. Shun the straw and take your drink in the bottle. Use glass tumblers instead of the disposal cups. No need to buy plastic CDs and DVDs buy the music and movies online. Next time you are at a meeting buy a 20 L water jug or use the water dispenser and the glass tumblers.
  2. Reuse: This reminds me of my grandmother, her soul rest in peace. She kept all plastic bags we carried groceries in when we visit her for holidays and when she sends me on an errand She could just pick one if necessary. Instead of throwing the water bottle away use it to store water. Plant flowers in that plastic container don’t throw it away.
  3. If you can’t reuse it just refuse it. You can’t reuse a thin plastic shopping bag, a thin plastic bag you buy chips in, refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other “disposable” plastics. Remember they are the key pollutants, so beat them.
  4. Sorting and disposal: I would recommend that you segregate waste accordingly, biodegradables and non-biodegradables. Biodegradables compost them, plastic should be isolated and disposed in a landfill in the absence of structures which can recycle or incinerate them.
  5. Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills.
  6. Make noise about beat plastic pollution. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to reduce plastic in our lives and the nauseating impacts of plastic pollution.
  7. Organise waste cleanup campaigns or next time you hear about one join.

Osamangolubalubwa that the environment is deteriorating with plastics pollution, take action. Ban single use plastics in Malawi and enforce it. Act! Osamangolubwalubwa.

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Our Fresh Futurez represents Malawi in the 2018 UN Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development

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The 2018 United Nations Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development took place from Wednesday 21 March to Friday 23 March at the World Conference Center – Bonn, near the UN Campus in Germany’s former capital city. Our very own Wrixon Mpanang’ombe attended this second edition of the annual event, representing Our Fresh Futurez and Malawi.

Wrixon was one of the volunteers selected from around the world by Project Everyone (a UK based NGO) to participate in the World’s Largest Lesson – Bonn Activation. In this role, Wrixon developed a lesson as part of a multinational team, and taught the Sustainable Development Goals at Gesamtschule Euskirchen school, located an hour’s drive outside the city of Bonn.

Apart from being inspired by the different narratives of the various change makers that he met at the festival, some of his highlights include the boat cruise on the Rhine River and participating in the MY World workshop both organized by the UN SDG Action Campaign.

Here are some photos from the experience:

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Delivering a presentation on the SDGs at Gesamtschule Euskirchen

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With the World’s Largest Lesson team mates: L-R Candice from Hawaii, USA; Alex from Düsseldorf, Germany; Adaku from Nigeria (but based in England)

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Attending the closing plenary session

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Cholera is not as deadly as you think. Here’s why

Four have lost their lives in Malawi since the recent cholera outbreak started. With at least 150 cases registered, the Malawian outbreak is nowhere near the devastating scale in Lusaka, Zambia. So far, there has been more than 2,400 cases and 58 deaths recorded in one of the worst outbreaks the country has faced. Public gatherings have been banned and a night-time curfew has been imposed in Kanyama, the worst hit slum of the Zambian capital, all as measures to end the cholera outbreak. As you read this line you must be thinking that cholera is the deadliest disease ever! It is deadly but not as you may think.

Many people believe that once you get cholera, death is inevitable. But, that is not the case. In fact, more people survive cholera than those who die from the disease. In most cases people die due to a lack of awareness of the disease. The branding of cholera as a ‘deadly’ disease also doesn’t help. Who would help someone suffering from a deadly disease they would easily contact? Certainly no one wants to be associated with cholera and fail to render support to cholera victims because they fear of contacting it. As a result people who would otherwise survive end up dying.

To prevent more deaths and erase the deadly reputation of cholera, firstly, we have to understand the disease to know how it is not always deadly. Here are ten facts about cholera (adapted from World Health Organisation’s Cholera Fact Sheet):

  1. Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by eating food or drinking water  that is contaminated with the bacterium called Vibrio cholerae (which is waterborne).
  2. The disease can kill in a matter of hours if left untreated.
  3. Every year, there are 1.3 million to 4.0 million cases of cholera, and 21,000 to 143,000 deaths around the world due to cholera. Roughly less than ten percent of infected persons die!
  4. It takes up to five days for symptoms to show in an infected person.
  5. The main symptom is severe acute watery diarrhoea. It may also be coupled with severe watery vomiting.
  6. Most infected people show less or no symptoms, and are successfully treated with oral rehydration solution (ORS). Yes, ORS!
  7. Critical cases require rapid treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
  8. Provision of safe water and proper sanitation is essential to control the transmission of cholera but also other waterborne diseases.

    Cholera is transmitted through the consumption of unsafe water (Photo Credit: Freshwater Project International)

  9. Safe oral cholera vaccines have been developed and should be used in conjunction with improved access to water and sanitation for prevention in high risk areas as well as to control cholera outbreaks.
  10. A global strategy on cholera control which targets to reduce cholera deaths by 90% was launched in 2017. It is part of a road-map to end cholera in up to 20 countries by 2030.

You now realize that cholera deaths are preventable so long as there is adequate care and support for those infected. Ensuring this support is part of the wider goal to ensure good access to healthcare for everyone by 2030: the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number three. Nevertheless, prevention of new cholera outbreaks is equally if not more important. This can be achieved if we make safe drinking water accessible to everyone. Also, we should make sure that everyone has access to proper sanitation. Cholera is transmitted through faeces, therefore, sanitation reduces the risk of cholera getting into our drinking water. SDG number six targets good access to clean water and sanitation for everyone by 2030. If we achieve these two goals, the issue of cholera will be just another chapter of history books in the sustainable future that we all want!

We’re OFF to a sustainable world!

Have you ever imagined a world free from hunger; with very good healthcare access to everyone; with equality everywhere whether in education, employment, or wealth distribution; a world where there is sufficient clean water for everyone always; where our energy needs are met whether in cooking or lighting our homes, in our transport systems, or in our industries; with no environmental degradation and almost all the biodiversity restored; all the conflicts peacefully resolved; and without the threat of a rapidly changing climate? Well, that’s what we call a sustainable world!

On Friday, 25 September 2015, the world was destined for transformation to realize the sustainable world that we all want. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed upon by leaders from 193 countries at the United Nations General Assembly. The deadline is 2030. If we get it right by achieving all the goals by 2030, we are on the right track to a sustainable future. If we don’t: we are doomed! We only have now to take control and be in charge of our fresh futures.

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The Sustainable Development Goals (Source: Wikipedia)

The SDGs are not the first universal development agenda the world has ever agreed on. In fact the SDGs took over from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which came into effect in the year 2000. Achievement of the MDGs in 2015 was highly inconsistent with other countries achieving the most of the goals very well while others did not realize any of the goals. But why were the MDGs not evenly achieved? The answer is ‘the approach!’

The MDGs were meant to benefit the entire world, especially people living in poverty, but only governments, development agencies, and organisations working on the MDGs knew about the goals in countries like Malawi. People were not well informed about the MDGs thus not well empowered to contribute to the achievement of the goals. So far, even though there has been improved efforts in the work towards the SDGs, it seems that the Malawi government, civil society, and development partners are ‘forcing’ interventions on people who are not aware of the end goal: achieving the SDGs by 2030.

If we are ever going to attain the SDGs we need to change our approach. We need to ensure that people, both rural and urban, are fully aware of the 17 SDGs and what the goals mean for our future. A good understanding of sustainability at the grassroots level is the key to creating an enabling environment for all the interventions being implemented towards the SDGs.

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The Our Fresh Futurez working logo used from September to November 2017

With only 12 years left to the deadline, we need to act fast to ensure grassroots awareness of the SDGs so that no one is left out. ‘Our Fresh Futurez’ is here to make the noise about the SDGs as well as to promote and ensure understanding of sustainability across all levels in Malawi and beyond. We are OFF to a sustainable world!