Lynn Hurry with Nduduzo Cele

Nduduzo Cele is a third year BSc student in the Mathuba Schools & Citizens River Health Program of UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth & Environmental Sciences.

My name is Nduduzo Cele. I come from Imbali location where I have been working with a friend, PhumeleleGwala to start the Imbali Organic Farming. We work mainly helping the local community by encouraging them with clean-ups and providing sites which have been cleaned, to good use. As part of our project nurseries for vegetable growing are set to be started in these sites – a challenging situation since the community has first to get permission from the councilor to use the vacant areas before we can gather people to do the clean-ups of the sites.

The spark for our project came when I attended a lecture delivered by Dr. Mark Dent on citizen decision-making on environmental issues and the responsibilities that go with these. As a result of this lecture students volunteered to do a cleanup along the banks of the Duziriver, and following this I was then introduced to Dr Dent’s Mathuba School & Citizens River Health Programme. I immediately fell in love with the Programme, and it was arranged that I would join in its work. Since Mathuba uses computer programs such as Flickr and GoogleEarth I first worked with visiting German researcher Tobias Reinhardt, who showed me how these programs were being used to spread the ‘river health’ message.

As time went by my love kept growing and I was fortunate enough to meet others working in river health programmes in the Midlands. Although too many to name in this article I have particularly grateful for the contacts made and kept with LouineBoothway and Liz Taylor of the WESSA program in Mpophomeni; Wendy Ngcobo from the DuziuMngeni Conservation Trust; Andile Vilakazi of Enviro-Champs; Thandanani Luvuno of the Enviro-Clubs in Mpophomeni – all of whom love the environment and been an inspiration to me.In addition, in an interview by Stephen Coan of The Witness, I was given an opportunity to discuss theMathubaprogramme – an experience that was much appreciated.

Recently a Youth Water Workshop gave me the chance to make many more new connections and the fire and energy keeps growing as other connections are made. No one can work in isolation because at some point, the energy will fade away. This is illustrated in a metaphor used by Dr. Dent that I really like : “When you remove one piece of burning wood from the fire, it will slowly die out while others will continue to burn as long they are still together. “

If we can continue to connect what is happening in Imbalito what is happening inMpophomeniand other places, then we can be like that fire that never dies out.We may come from different backgrounds but the environmental problems we face are the same. For me I now have the energy and inspiration to play my part in solving them.