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Climate Justice Diaries: Doers of the Word

Climate Justice Diaries: Doers of the Word

Tuesday February 22 2022

A group of Malawian youths explain why they are taking practical action to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

(Written in Chichewa by Allan Nkhonjera, Youth Chairperson. Arranged and translated by the Rev Enos Muhiwa, minister of Thondwe CCAP Congregation in Blantyre Synod, Malawi. Thondwe Congregation is twinned with Innerleithen, Traquair and Walkerburn Church of Scotland.)

As a way of restoring the lost glory and mitigating effects of climate crisis, we, youths from Thondwe came together (on Jan 31 2022) to plant 82 fruit trees around the church. This is part of our active role in protecting and improving the environment.


Background to the Exercise

Research conducted by Oxfam International indicates that for the past 40 years, Malawi has been experiencing increased temperatures and intense rain resulting in drought and flooding, shorter growing seasons, poor crop yields, food shortages and hunger – pushing Malawi further into poverty. In the 2020/2021 growing season, Thondwe community experienced a devastating storm that damaged people’s houses and crops leaving many desperate and in dire need of shelter and food. Additionally, in February 2022, tropical storm Ana caused floods, destruction and fatalities in Malawi where 21,127 households (995,072 people) were affected across 19 districts; 46 people died, 206 people injured, 18 people still missing.

It is against this life threatening background that the youths from Thondwe thought of participating in environment protection and care. Fruit trees will not only act as a prevention to environment crisis; but also provide free food (organic delicious food), preserve health with a green lifestyle, as well as contributing Eco-friendly solution to Global issues: reduction of harmful gases in the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.


Biblical Evidence – Creation Care

As Christian youths and bearers of God’s image, we believe taking part in tree planting exercise, we are being faithful to the will of God. We ought to love and care for the earth because it is God’s very good creation:

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:31)

By virtue of that, we are motivated to carry on the biblical vision of the world. Planting more trees and caring for them is one of the complementing exercises towards a biblical vision of the world and its creation. As Christians today, we need to understand this biblical basis of caring for the environment and actively participate in it – we need to be doers of the word:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.(James 1:22)


Cultural Significance of Trees

In most African communities, trees have a special role in the affairs of people. They are a venue for many cultural events. Certain forests and trees are reserved, protected and valued for cultural occasions. Further to that, certain trees are regarded sacred for spiritual events like praying for rains. Our forefathers offered sacrifices under ‘Mpoza’ tree asking for rain or if a calamity befall their society.  Therefore, as African youths, participating in tree planting will not only make us faithful believers of the word of God but also cement our unique African culture.


Future Plans

Protecting and caring for the environment is an ongoing process that requires combined efforts. As Thondwe Youths, we plan to plant 20,000 different trees around Thondwe community within a period of five years (4000 trees every year). We trust and believe that by embarking in this project we will able to restore the lost green glory of our society as well as mitigating future effects of the climate crisis.

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Climate Justice Diaries: Church of Scotland partners from around the world explore the impact of climate change, and what is being done to help. 

Sandra Reis and Maria Eduarda Titosse report from Portugal, where much of the country is in severe or extreme drought
Per Ivar Våje of the Church of Norway says tackling climate change is a question of 'political will'
Updates from Church partners following the deadly cyclone in Malawi and Mozambique
The Rev Sharon Hollis reflects on the eruption and tsunami which devastated Tonga
Dr Ruth Padilla DeBorst examines how climate change will drive migration
Margaret Pang reflects on attending COP26 on behalf of the Boys' Brigade
Maness Nkhata from Malawi describes how climate change is affecting subsistence farmers.
Keith and Ida Waddell highlight how those least to blame for climate change are most at risk.
Joel Hafvenstein explains how climate change is impacting farming communities in Nepal.
Gorden Simango on how the crisis is affecting the poorest in Africa.