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Uniting for Empowerment: The 2023 Planet One Youth Exchange

In December 2023, young leaders and activists from Sweden, Hungary, Armenia, Cameroon, Kenya, and South Africa came together in Stockholm for an incredible opportunity – the Youth Exchange organized by Planet One. Over five days, this event sparked enthusiasm and inspired these next generation leaders to make positive strides in climate fairness.

The Youth Exchange kicked off with a burst of energy and excitement. Warm welcomes, icebreakers, and activities set the stage for connections to bloom. A tour of Fryshuset and an inspiring talk by the Fridays For Future team left everyone feeling fired up. The highlight? A vibrant session where we crafted banners for the upcoming Friday’s strike.

Day two was all about action. We joined the Fridays For Future strike, showing our dedication to climate action. Exploring Stockholm’s Old Town and visiting the Greenpeace Office added depth to our experience. The day concluded with a passionate debate, allowing each participant to voice their thoughts on the global fight for climate justice.

One participant summed it up perfectly, “It was an extremely positive day filled with community. The strike was one of the highlights for me: taking part in it was an interesting experience. Hopefully, it had a great impact and brought about some real changes!”

On day three, we immersed ourselves in nature at Hellasgarden. A sauna session and a dip in the lake grounded us and deepened our connection to the environment. In the afternoon, we had a workshop focusing on projects led by our youth, providing a platform for everyone to express and share their passion and creativity.

Reflecting on the day, one participant remarked, “Exploring another Swedish tradition was exciting, and venturing into nature provided a refreshing change. The workshop empowered me to initiate my own youth-led project.

Day four was about relaxation and creativity. Morning yoga set a positive tone,where we embraced moments of relaxation and introspection, while activities like baking vegan cookies and painting offered a chance to discover inner strength in response to climate challenges. The day concluded with a workshop centered around self-discovery through art, highlighting the importance of self-care and mindfulness while fostering deeper connection among participants. Another participant shared, “Today brought us closer together, especially through teamwork. Starting with yoga made it all feel right, and recording podcasts was a blast!”

The final day was bittersweet. It provided us an opportunity for reflective expression through various creative outlets. We engaged in crafting with a Christmas theme and crafting handmade guitars. The exchange concluded with a heartfelt goodbye dinner featuring African cuisine, marking the end of an incredible and transformative week together. Reflecting on the farewell, one participant expressed, “Today was emotional, especially the farewell dinner, which was a perfect culmination of great food, company, and shared memories. It was difficult to bid farewell to such wonderful people.”

The Stockholm Youth Exchange served as a powerful platform for fostering connections and inspiring a commitment to a greener future. We not only learned about different cultures but also forged lasting friendships and gained insights into diverse societies. Through teamwork and stepping out of comfort zones, each of us left with valuable lessons and renewed determination to effect positive change in our communities. 

“I used to think I had nothing significant to share, but this exchange showed me the importance of sharing knowledge with others. I’ve resolved to continue learning and sharing for the betterment of our communities.”

The friendships we made will continue to fuel the global movement for climate justice. As we part ways, we carry with us memories, lessons, and the inspiration to continue our journey toward a sustainable and equitable world.

During the youth exchange first episode of the “Unveiling Environmental Echoes” podcast has been recorded, an environmental talk among the passionate members of the Alternative Youth Center and the prominent leaders of the youth teams from Kenya and the Republic of South Africa.

Written by Danyil Nychka, the ESC volunteer from Ukraine at Fryshuset, Stockholm, Sweden

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My Ubuntu Hub Impact Experience 

Many individuals envision a space that would make them feel recognised and heard. Quite often these  kinds of spaces are within arm’s reach, however our youth do not know much about them let alone  know the kind of support or initiatives that are provided. For the past few months, Ubuntu Hub has  engaged with youth from various artistic and environmental backgrounds, offering a platform that  initiates creativity and encouragement. The Hub assists youth around Johannesburg with amplifying  their voices, their artistic gifts, and their environmental projects or ideas. 

Personally, Ubuntu Hub has provided me with amazing opportunities and skills within the  environmental and maker-space. These range from social media and climate justice workshops,  strengthening my environmental passion towards protecting the environment, learning how to fuse my  artistic talent with activism, as well as socializing with like-minded individuals and learning in-depth  about the importance of diversity.  

Growing up in a township, I have recognised that lack of environmental awareness is a huge issue that  still prevails in parts of South Africa, and only a few have information about places like Ubuntu Hub.  My journey has equipped me with the right knowledge thus far to educate and inspire other young  individuals sharing similar values and passions towards creating a greener future.  

The constant effort made by Ubuntu Hub to reach more youth across South Africa through Instagram  and Facebook, has encouraged youth, including myself, to voice out their gifts to a broader audience.  One of the aspects that I appreciate the most at the Hub is that regardless of the project, workshop or  activity hosted; you ultimately always leave the space with a different viewpoint and at the end of the  day your heart is inspired to do more for yourself and others.  

The thing is, we all come from different backgrounds, and we constantly search for a place that enables  us growth and sparks creativity. At the core of our search, we want to feel like we belong and feel a  sense of appreciation towards our crafts. The fact that I found these qualities in a space like Ubuntu  Hub, filled with enthusiasm and innovation, allows me the chance to express my talents and appreciate  that everyone’s journey can be supported. 

Story provided by Ubuntu Hub, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Harmony in Art and Impact: Summer Arts’ Journey to Environmental Impact with Ubunifu Hub

Art serves as a powerful means of communication, and for Ombok and Maxwell, the creators behind the Summer Arts initiative, it has become a vehicle to bring artists together for a common cause. Documenting and showcasing their work on a dedicated YouTube channel, they have harnessed their artistic forms to raise awareness about environmental conservation and protection within their community.

The turning point for Summer Arts came with a transformative 6-week training at Ubunifu Hub in September 2021. Ombok reflects, “Before the training, the community didn’t take us seriously. But after that, we now have an identity.” The duo now proudly wears a uniform that communicates their purpose, sparking curiosity within the community and prompting inquiries about their work.

Their impact on the community is tangible, reaching up to 300 people through a handwashing campaign and other initiatives in Lucky Summer. Through the program, they’ve not only interacted with other like-minded groups but also expanded their network, fostering collaboration for a more significant impact.

The training also paved the way for tangible support from Ubunifu Hub. Ombok shares, “After the training, we submitted a proposal that resulted in us getting a micro-grant.” This grant provided them with essential resources such as a handcart (mkokoteni), uniforms, personal protective equipment (PPE), spades, and hoes, significantly easing their waste management efforts. Ombok emphasizes, “Now when we are working, we are also protected.”

Maxwell sheds light on their future plans, stating, “Part of the funding we’re using to create a website so that we can showcase more of our environmental work and also promote art as a way of spreading the message on environmentalism.” The gratitude towards Ubunifu Hub is evident as Maxwell expresses, “We’re grateful for Ubunifu Hub’s support. Being in this uniform signifies that we are resisting climate injustice.”

Story provided by Ubunifu Hub, Nairobi, Kenya

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Empowering Dreams: Seka Blaise’s Journey with Mboa Hub

Hello, fellow planet enthusiasts! I’m Seka Jean Blaise, a passionate advocate for clean energy hailing from the beautiful Grassfields of Cameroon. My journey with clean energy began when I witnessed the harsh realities of limited energy access in my community. Fueled by this experience, I embarked on a mission to empower youths like me and bring about a transition to clean energy in Cameroon, with a vision of energy democracy for rural communities.

My transformative journey took an unexpected turn one Friday afternoon at Open Dreams when I met Ndum Albert and Mache Dolores, Greenpeace Africa Volunteers. They shared the exciting news about the launch of a Youth Climate Justice Makerspace, Mboa Hub, powered by Greenpeace Africa and Fryshuset through Planet One. Little did I know that this encounter would lead me to a roller-coaster ride of purpose discovery and self-actualization.

Before January 17, 2023,  I was a novice in the field of climate action. However, the invitation to the opening ceremony of Mboa Hub changed everything. This youth Makerspace became the catalyst for my academic and professional transformation. Through Mboa Hub, I was nominated as a delegate from Cameroon, funded by Greenpeace Africa, to attend the Climate Justice Camp in Lebanon. This one-week experience, focused on clean energy, exposed me to expert leaders from 350.org in France and Greenpeace in Greece, shaping my perspective on energy democracy—a life goal I now aspire to achieve for Cameroon by 2035.

Out of this passion, DeWise Energy was born—a startup dedicated to providing affordable and reliable clean energy to all Cameroonians. Mboa Hub became the wind beneath DeWise’s wings, offering invaluable technical and financial support. Together, we’ve launched projects like the DeWise Fellowship, empowering displaced youths to propose solutions to community problems, and the DeWise-Mboa SunSpark Energy Accelerator Program, training 20 youths annually on clean energy technologies.

What sets Mboa Hub apart is not just its professional prowess but the sense of family it exudes. The unity within the team translates into effective programs that resonate with the youth. I’m grateful for the support from the Mboa Hub team, and I eagerly anticipate future collaborations and projects. Together, we’re not just dreaming of a cleaner, greener future—we’re actively building it!

Mboa Hub, Yaoundé, Cameroon

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From Jack-of-All-Trades to Eco-Artist Extraordinaire: Ken’s Remarkable Journey

In the vibrant and bustling landscape of Nairobi, Kenya, where the quest for innovative ways to earn a living never ceases, one man’s journey stands out as a testament to resilience and creativity. Meet Ken, a true jack-of-all-trades who, despite facing numerous challenges, has managed to carve a path that not only sustains him but also contributes to a greener, more sustainable future.

Ken’s diverse career portfolio is a testament to his relentless pursuit of financial stability. He’s dipped his toes in construction work, acrobatics, carwash business, waste management, carpentry, motorbike transport services, food vending, and even renting out projectors for events and meetings. Each endeavor was met with its own set of trials, but through it all, Ken persevered.

The carwash venture, for instance, took a hard hit from national water rationing. Like many motorbike riders in the city, he constantly had to deal with harassment from law enforcement. The projector he once rented out was damaged beyond repair. These obstacles could have easily deterred many, but not Ken. His unwavering zeal and passion shine through, and they’ve found a new outlet in his latest venture: artwork.

“In this life, everyone must be strong,” Ken asserts as he paints a striking tree silhouette, capturing the essence of his indomitable spirit.

The turning point in Ken’s journey came in June 2022 when he joined the youth group Tempo Arts Centre, which, in partnership with Ubunifu Hub, embarked on a six-week training program to enhance their skills and knowledge in climate justice. The group’s activities spanned performative arts, community waste management, and awareness campaigns on critical issues, including drug abuse. Ken became an active member, and it was during one of these training sessions that he stumbled upon a revolutionary idea within the circular economy: transforming waste paper into art.

The training illuminated the concept of leveraging waste as a resource for green businesses, providing hands-on experiences to transform discarded materials like bamboo, paper waste, and plastic into saleable products.

Ken, always the resourceful individual, began experimenting with the idea by collecting waste cardboard and shredding it. Though resources were limited, his persistent determination and guidance from his trainer, Robert at Ubunifu Hub, enabled him to create his initial art samples. Subsequently, in early 2023, Ken pitched his concept to the Ubunifu Hub team, who promptly offered their support and the required resources to kickstart his vision.

But why art? Ken’s answer is simple: “I have a passion for it, and I learn something new with every painting, so it keeps my interest high. I’m very hopeful about the future of this project, so I will focus on it.”

Ken recalls his previous life, where idle afternoons were common after finishing early at his casual work with Tempo Art Centre. When he discovered the craft of transforming waste into art, he knew it was a chance to turn a slow-paced endeavor into something substantial and meaningful.

Now, you can often find Ken at the Ubunifu Hub, diligently working on his latest creation. He has 

crafted approximately 16 distinct art pieces, with four already finding eager buyers. With every piece, his skill grows, and his ambition swells.

“I love working at Ubunifu Hub,” Ken remarks. “There are no interruptions. I can focus all day and often work until evening.”

Beyond creating his masterpieces, Ken has utilized his presence at the Hub to inspire and guide others. Networking with fellow trainees and organizations, Ken has become a beacon of hope, motivating others to explore the circular economy and launch their initiatives. Already, four young people from different youth groups have reached out to Ken, seeking guidance in this transformative art form.

In May 2023, Ken had the opportunity to showcase his crafts to visitors at the Africa Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Conference, an exhibition organized by Ubunifu Hub. It was a pivotal moment that further fueled his dream of establishing his enterprise and continuing to train others. He firmly believes there are others like him who yearn to learn and prosper.

Ken’s journey is a testament to the growth potential within youth initiatives when met with adequate support and the unwavering determination of these young change-makers. His initiative alone has diverted up to 60 kg of paper waste from looming dumpsites, a small but significant step toward a greener future.

As Ken wisely puts it, “I knew this was a skill I couldn’t let go of.” For him, this journey has only just begun, and the future holds limitless possibilities. Ken’s story is one that resonates on a global scale, serving as a vivid example of how dedication and innovation can shape a brighter, more sustainable world.

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From Soweto to the World: Lubabalo Jafta’s Journey in the Youth Climate Movement

In the vibrant heart of Soweto, a young and inspiring individual is making waves in the world of climate change and spirituality. Meet Lubabalo Jafta, a local theater actor who recently realized his dream of recording a podcast show that explores the deep connection between climate change and spirituality.

For three years, Lubabalo poured his heart and soul into crafting a podcast that would shed light on the profound question of how climate change affects our spirituality. Armed with just his trusty mobile phone, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment.

One fateful evening, while scrolling through social media, Lubabalo stumbled upon Ubuntu Hub. This discovery changed the course of his journey. He decided to pay them a visit, and this visit turned his long-held dream into a reality. At Ubuntu Hub, he found state-of-the-art equipment that he could use for free, which was instrumental in bringing his podcast to life.

Lubablo Jafta

We celebrate this young champion of climate justice and spirituality. His dedication and unwavering passion have led him to become a leader in a youth movement focused on creating a brighter future for our planet. Lubabalo is now at the helm of a remarkable podcast show, collaborating with other talented young minds from Soweto who share his belief in achieving climate justice within their lifetime.

Lubabalo’s story is an inspiration to us all, demonstrating how determination and the right resources can empower individuals to make a real impact on the issues they care about. He’s an inspiration, not just in Soweto, but for a global audience. His story reminds us that by pursuing our passions and uniting with like-minded souls, we can create a world that’s more in tune with our spirituality and the environment.

Podcasting equipment at Ubuntu Hub