SUMAIYA HARUNANY | KENYA | RIGHT DIRECTION

TEACHER | ENVIRONMENTALIST | CLIMATE ACTIVIST | HUMANITARIAN

Hello, my name is Sumaiya Mohamed Ali Harunany, a teacher by profession, a very passionate environmentalist, a climate activist and the founder of Blue Earth Organization. Born and raised in the city of Mombasa, a coastal city and the second largest one in Kenya, it has always been a beautiful journey. I completed my kindergarten at N.A.Rahim Nursery Centre, Primary at Nasserpuria Primary and high at Memon High, now known as Memon Academy.

My passion for environmental conservation started when I saw the need to rid our oceans and beaches from plastic pollution whose effects have been choking our environment for a long time now. Along with a few friends of mine, we carried out a few beach cleanups and felt that we needed to organize ourselves in order to do a lot more than just that. It is for this reason that we came together and formed the Blue Earth Organization whose main aim is to tackle plastic pollution, regenerate areas that have been affected by pollution, infrastructure development and climate change as well as combating the climate crisis through Nature Based Solutions. Creating awareness through public sensitization and active participation is also another objective as to why we formed the Blue Earth Organization.

Our flagship project focuses on nature regeneration by planting mangroves in an area that is prone to flooding and the mangroves were destroyed to pave way for infrastructure development. Our seedlings are sourced from the nearby communities who due to the pandemic had lost their income. This supports them directly and also encourages them to continue working in greening our environment. Apart from the benefits to the community, mangroves are known to absorb 4 times more carbon than the mature tropical forests, making it a vital tool in the fight against climate change. Moreso, mangroves are important because of diversity hotspots with several fish, crustaceans, turtles and sharks coming in to feed and nest. For a city like Mombasa that is battling pollution and is at the forefront of being affected by climate change. Solutions like these are vital for the survival of not only nature but also vulnerable members of our community. We have managed to plant 10,400 seedlings since 2021 and over 200 indigenous trees in different schools with active participation from the children and the teachers, along with the support of Kenya Forestry Service.

What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them? One of the biggest challenges that we face as environmental activists is to make people believe that whatever we are doing is worthwhile and beneficial. It is because of such a mindset that we find it very hard to get enough funding and volunteers to further our cause. To overcome this we work on engaging school children by talking to them, involving them in our environmental activities and encouraging them to continue practicing what they started with us because it’s my belief that these children are the future generation and the custodians of planet Earth. What books are you currently reading? I love reading inspirational biographies and one of such books I am currently reading is Unbowed: A Memoir by Professor Wangari Maathai and Leading by Alex Ferguson. Another book I have read is Diana: her true story (my favorite iconic figure) What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally? Focus on the good things. Surround yourself with positive thoughts and people. Take a step at a time. Remember, the smallest steps in the right direction always end up being the biggest of your life. Social Media Handles: BLUE EARTH ORGANIZATION Instagram: Sumaiya Harunany Twitter: HarunanySumaiya Link to support our projects: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-us-regenerate-mangroves-nature?utm_source=whatsApp&utm_medium=chat&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet