Volunteers organized by the African Peace Service Corps and the Global Peace Foundation Kenya in partnership with the Kenya Forest Service and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) commemorated 2014 Mandela Day by planting 670 indigenous trees, symbolic of the 67 years Madiba committed to serve humanity.
The trees were planted at a special ceremony at Embakasi Girls Secondary School in Nairobi on July 18, 2014. The event also launched the “Trees for Livelihood” nursery project, a social enterprise to support development.
Nelson Mandela International Day is a global call to action for individuals and organizations to volunteer 67 minutes of their time to community service. This year’s observance, “Food Security, Shelter and Literacy,” is the first since former President Nelson Mandela’s passing.
Mr. Henry Ndede, country director of UNEP officiated the tree planting and named the area Mandela Garden as a constant reminder of the values and principles embodied by the South African leader. He encouraged students to broaden their knowledge and explore new ways to expand green economies and tackle the challenges of food security. “A reality check reveals that many African people still lack basic needs,” he said. “It is, therefore, imperative that we mark Mandela Day aware that these travesties still lurk in our midst, and we should not rest until we overcome them.”
Students performed traditional South African dances and recited poems. “When I think of Madiba, I remember an inspirer, a statesman and a protector of rights,” said a student from Kenya High School, “He fought for love, peace and equality for all, the same values we as leaders should aspire to live by.”
Embakasi Girls School Principal Mrs. Nancy Mutai said she was honored to host this year’s Mandela Day celebrations. “As we remind ourselves of the lessons Madiba taught us, let us take charge of the challenges in our communities,” she told students and participants. Ms. Mutai also recognized the efforts of the Global Peace Foundation through the Character and Creativity Initiative and the Leap Hub program at the school.
Global Peace Foundation-Kenya Country Director Mr. Daniel Juma emphasized good character as the starting point to creating sustainable solutions for Africa’s challenges. “Education will take you to the top but only character can keep you there,” he said. “This is why GPF promotes universal principles and values to build an ethical and cohesive society as a foundation for sustainable peace and development.”