CEC celebrates Sam Dindi
Sam Dindi the co-founder of Mazingira yetu organization was awarded during the 2019 IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Conservation Forum held in Johannesburg under the theme ‘Securing a Future for Nature in Africa’.
Photo: Sam Dindi
Photo: Sam Dindi
Photo: Sam Dindi
Photo: Sam Dindi
What motivated you to start a career in this field?
I was tired of hearing the government must do this and that and the international community should come and help. I was left wondering what is the role of the common person in ensuring our environment is protected for posterity. Those burning questions made me come out of my comfort zone and quit the complaining group and decided to take action through promoting environmental education in learning institutions and the general public at large as a problem solving method regarding environmental challenges.
What are you most proud of?
I am so proud of how an idea was conceived back in 2012 has impacted the lives of people not only in Kenya but internationally. Through the environment conservation program in schools we have been able to work with thousands of students, the music in conservation program won a Rhino conservation award, Mazingira Yetu magazine is now available in Google play store, training communities living along Nairobi River on Riparian ecosystem restoration and the icing on the cake is winning the IUCN CEC Excellence Award in 2019.
What was a major obstacle / challenge you faced?
The major obstacle that I faced was being judged as the younger generation that I have nothing to offer. People expect me to arrive in a car with a huge backing from someone. The moment I informed them that I am doing my work out of my own volition then the level of support goes down to zero.
Secondly, the lack of adequate finances has limited our environmental outreach programs and hindered us from hiring support staff to help in implantation of the various programs. Also investments in research and development have been poor, limiting the number of innovative programs being rolled out.
How did you overcome it?
Over time I have developed a thick skin to withstand any form of judgments and through the impact of my work people are learning to view the youth as an asset that ought to be nurtured and supported and not being castigated. A lack of adequate finances has made me embrace social entrepreneurship in my line of work by introducing an element of income generation in the programs that we come up with, writing funding proposals, reaching out to potential supporters and pursuing partnerships.
Which golden tip do you have for new comers who want to follow your path?
Follow your passion, keep learning and be ready to sacrifice your time and resources to achieve your goals.
Is there anything else related to your professional achievements you would like to share with the CEC community?
In 2012 I wrote an email to Sir Richard Branson asking him on how I would get support of my environment conservation activities. His reply, a loyal following is only a click away was a catalyst in making me believe that I can pursue my career goals with the little available resources at hand. In March 2012 I co-raised $2 as capital towards the commencement of our environment education/awareness targeting learning institutions through class room learning and through field activities by embracing the use of talent and innovation. The initiative was able to reach out to over 5,000 students in primary, secondary and universities across Kenya.
I have also written and produced 11 environmental conservation themed songs that involved mentorship of 9 artists from East Africa in writing and performing environmental themed songs. The biggest success was one of the songs titled Kifaru Twakupenda (We Love Our Rhinos) winning “The best Youth led involvement in raising awareness in rhino” conferred by Game Rangers Association of Africa.
My job in the field of environment conservation education through Mazingira yetu organization is vital to CEC and IUCN in terms of knowledge dissemination and training to the people on the ground who are yearning for environment based information but cannot seem to get it or when they get hold if it then it becomes too complicated to understand.
Dr. Margaret Otieno the IUCN CEC Vice Chair for Eastern and Southern Africa has been very supportive of environmental education work more so Mazingira yetu magazine through active participation in its development and guidance on some key environmental matters. Mr Sean Southey the IUCN CEC Chair was very instrumental in seeing me applying to join the CEC and has involved Mazingira yetu magazine in reproducing a section #NatureForAll comic strips for the purpose of environmental education targeting the youth.
Through Mazingira yetu magazine, application, radio, radio podcast and youtube channel we shall continue to advance CEC goal of raising awareness of the importance of nature and also use them as an effective communication tool to the end users who yearn for environment related information. Lastly the youth will continue being at the centre stage of our various programs because it’s them who have the energy and enthusiasm of seeing mother Earth is conserved for posterity.
Currently I am involved in land restoration activities in Ondiri wetland in Kikuyu and in Nairobi and Ngong Rivers in addition to this I have started a Mazingira yetu radio podcast that does environmental themed audio stories and making of environment themed video documentaries.
Lately I got featured on CNN going green and received the Head of States Commendation award for my service to the country.
Read more stories about the CEC Excellence Award winners!