Evo Morales, a Bolivian politician once said: “Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the earth has rights too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”
Temwa Mbeya is one of the few youths passionate about the environment.
Her concern is environmental degradation in the country and how she can sustainably deal with this problem.
Temwa enjoys working with fellow youths in solving some of the social issues in vulnerable communities.
She founded a non-governmental organisation (NGO), United Communities for Transformation (UCT) in September 2020, but registered in May 2021.
Her aim is to be a role model in promoting environmental, economic and social sustainability in Malawi through community mobilisation and advocacy.
“My dream for an organisation started the first time I learnt about Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] during a nutrition course in college. The more I read about the goals, the more my interest grew.
“I learnt about government’s struggle in achieving SDGs despite implementing various strategic interventions. I was motivated to mobilise other youths in supporting the government to achieve the SDGs. I realised the need for concerted efforts from Malawians, especially the youth and other NGOS in various such interventions,” she explained.
The core mission of her organisation is to be a role model and promote environmental, economic and social sustainability in Malawi through community mobilisation and advocacy.
Her vision is to see Malawian homes and communities thrive through sustainable development initiatives in line with the objectives of her NGO.
Its objectives are; to promote sustainable agriculture, reduce the impact of climate change and sustainably, manage natural resources, promote gender equality and women empowerment, promote access to quality essential healthcare services, promote equitable access to education and vocational training.
The organisation has five specific areas; environment, education, gender, agriculture and health.
Temwa observed that these are the key drivers for socio-economic development.
“We have started conservation projects to address environmental degradation which has contributed to an increase in the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. The gases increase the risk of natural disasters.
“Furthermore, according to the 2020 environmental performance index, Malawi is ranked 104 out of 180 countries in terms of pollution emissions. This shows the need for more NGOs to work together towards supporting government in environmental conservation projects,” she said.
Temwa said she is already overwhelmed because even though her organisation is new, she has started working on the ground.
On September 22 2021, UCT conducted a commemoration for the World Cleanup Day in collaboration with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, National Youth Network on Climate Change, International Conservation and Cleanup Management, Malawi Scotland Partnership and Malawi Creation Care Network.
They cleaned Lilongwe Wildlife Centre to solve the waste management problem at the tourist site in which the Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources Nancy Tembo graced the event.
UCT also focuses on gender-based projects to advance women and girls’ rights, especially sexual and reproductive health rights.
“I have come this far because of the strong support system consisting of my family, friends, mentors and other well-wishers. They have helped me cope with difficult situations as well as financial support for the NGO since we are new and don’t have sponsors yet,” she said.
Temwa further said her parents were her role models. She is the second born daughter to Harry and Joyce Mbeya.
The environmentalist obtained her Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) from Marymount Girls Secondary School in 2012.
She later obtained a bachelor of Science degree majoring in nutrition and double minor in statistics and biology from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College in 2018.
Temwa said young people have the potential to succeed in various aspects of their lives through hard work, dedication and determination to achieve their goals.
She went further to say that she was ushered to career success by her goal oriented nature.
She adds: “Once I set a goal, I make sure to stay focused and dedicated to achieve it. Most importantly, coming from a Christian home, I put God first in all my endeavours.”
Temwa’s success habits are organisation, setting goals, taking action and fearlessness in taking necessary steps towards achieving her goals.
However, networking is also her valuable asset since she recognises that connecting with other successful people and organisations advances her knowledge and skills base.
When asked to name the most difficult decision she ever made, Temwa said she quit her job to allocate more time to planning and implementing projects for her NGO.
“My advice to young girls is to do better and make a difference. They should discover their passion towards impacting society, set goals for that passion and build professional networks by being active in any space they want to see change and learn from experts. Most importantly, work hard towards achieving your goals and start now. Don’t wait for another time to make a change,” she said.
Temwa also advised people to be responsible in managing wastes because this is our only planet and if they can’t take care of it, nobody else will. n