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Chris Waweru Avram on family climate activism and greening his university campus

The young student's passion and unwavering commitment to the environment not only runs in his family but has also earned him a place in Daystar University's history books.

From left: Paul Caleb, Henrick Niyumugisha and Waweru Chris Avram

By Lucy Githugo, bird Story Agency

For Chris Waweru Avram, climate activism runs in the family. At only nine years of age, he watched his grandfather lead protests which compelled the local government to clear a towering rubbish heap that had stood outside their home for years.

"My elder brother almost lost his life to a severe infection caused by a fall on a rainy day when he had gone to throw garbage at that dump site. After my grandfather led protests, the local government almost immediately

cleared that area," said Waweru.

This call to action by his grandfather inspired him, and ever since, he has been at the forefront of many environmental campaigns in Kenya.

Today, the young student's passion and unwavering commitment to the environment has earned him a place in Daystar University's history books.

Waweru founded the university's first-ever environment club three years ago and has since spearheaded numerous initiatives on campus, including the newly established Ayiro park.

The space was once full of thorny shrubs and acacia trees with no shade areas, but it now has landscaped grass, young trees, and lush green spaces for students to hang out.

"Every time I watch students enjoying their time at the park, I feel proud that our efforts have not been futile, but this could not have been possible without the support of our Vice Chancellor Laban Ayiro, who has walked with us every step of the way," acknowledged Waweru.

"The Ayiro Park is one of Waweru's projects that will remain embedded in our hearts. The park has provided a lot of students with tranquility and the ability to brainstorm ideas in group discussions. Previously, we would either rely on hot classrooms or hostels to hold discussions but a walk into the university will just show any new person how students enjoy the park," said Nyingi Wahome, Daystar's succeeding Environmental Club president.

His other notable project, the Green Daystar initiative, turned a once-barren three-acre land into a thriving, sustainable farm that boasts over 3,000 trees, a water irrigation system, and a lush ecosystem that feeds the entire campus. The project has ended previous water shortages in student hostels, a long-standing problem that plagued the university.

He's also led installing solar street lighting on campus, provided bins for proper waste disposal, and even partnered with Coca-Cola to collect plastic waste.

Daystar's Environment Club co-patron Maurice Masiga acknowledged Waweru's efforts, citing that the green bins, tree planting, solar power installations, and other environmental activities have now grown out of the Daystar Environmental Club.

"Daystar's Green Agenda has gone on fairly well. It has not been a walk in the park though! This main campus is in an ASAL region, which makes the agenda a big challenge for the university. The rains we get at Athi River are not as favorable as in Nairobi which is only 40 kilometers away but our sustainable energy solutions present a great opportunity for the growth of green energy and sustainable solutions," remarked Masiga.

During the launch of the 35,000-seedling tree nursery at the university on 16th February, Kenya's Forestry Principal Secretary Ephantus Kimani promised to give more seeds and tubes to the university, to put up more nurseries, and technical support to increase the survival rate for the trees.

"I anticipate a time when Daystar University will become a demonstration center in environmental conservation for Machakos County," said the Vice-chancellor, Laban Ayiro.

Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Climate Change, youth ambassador Laurel Kivuyo, supports the initiative by governments to engage university students, as youths are a critical component in climate action projects.

"In Tanzania, ocean clean-ups are done by university students. As the first youth envoy of SADC, we deal with youth environmental assemblies and I have noted that the students are really active and always show up. This is also because the flow of information is also easy," explained Kivuyo.

Waweru is not only leading conservation efforts at his school but also at home, where he continues to change his community's perspectives on the environment.

"My mum and dad have had the biggest shift of perception, and they make their friends aware of the environment. My mum, for example, plants trees during her women group meetings and my dad is always quick to share environmental articles with me," concluded Waweru.

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