Tall Mpoppies – Penz Malinga
Penz Malinga – Eco-Activist
Unashamed bunny-hugger, Penz Malinga has just won the KZN Youth Achievers Award in the Environmental Category for the second time. Umvithi Rural Youth Development Foundation SA organises the Annual Award to recognise young people who are making a difference in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Penz is a founder member of the Mpophomeni Conservation Group (MCG) and acknowledges that she would not have received the award if it were not for the support of other committed environmentalists within the group. “You (MCG) lift me higher” she said holding the golden horn trophy.
While Penz loves nothing more than splashing in mountain streams or hugging trees in the forest, most of her time is spent in Mpophomeni, where the streams are filthy and the grassland is degraded. Here she works at inspiring others to care about their surroundings. “We rely on these eco-systems for our survival”, she says, “protecting rivers and natural areas is absolutely vital for human existence, never mind all the other creatures which rely on them. Our actions have an impact on millions of people.”
Penz realised years ago that the choices we make affect others. For this reason she is vegetarian, preferring to reduce her carbon footprint by getting her boundless energy and enthusiasm from vegetables. “The cruelty of the food industry is unbelievable. The huge amount of water, energy, and grains (that could feed humans instead) used in factory farming, is crazy. We have to make some changes to our lifestyles.”
Penelope is a positive role model, unafraid to speak up on issues of animal rights, fairness, racism, feminism and environmental causes. She participates in Save Midmar meetings, teaches in schools, hosts regular walks in the township for visitors, leads Mpop Kidz Club excursions, writes about environmental champions and community issues, and grows much of her own food. “My biggest challenge is to get support from my peers. It would be nice to have offers of help, rather than having to initiate everything.” It is this commitment to making a difference on our planet that has earned her the recognition as an environmental champion.
Doug Burdon Manager of DUCT “The work that Penz and the MCG are doing has rallied the support of the locals in Mpophomeni to ‘get involved’ with water and health issues affecting the community. We encourage Penz Malinga and her team to continue their great work in this important community conservation field. The commitment and passion – in the face of many hardships – is admirable.”
Read more about Penz at: www.mpophomeniconservationgroup.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/environmental-young-achiever-award-for-penelope-malinga/