Been told*: « Believe in your dreams! »

That wonderful morning; birds were singing in trees, people were sleeping and the sun was rising as usually. I was jogging along lake Washington with the hope to reduce the stress of the long awaiting day! Even it was not a normal day as such, but that’s how I normally I start my day! It was my very first day at Starbucks for my PDE! Through prayers, praying is the first I do even before jogging; one thought kept resonating along in my mind “expect only the best and get it”.

In due course, the man we have been chatting for over two months show up, thanks to the technology! He is unique in his kind; smart and very handsome. In fact, I was staying with two others amazing folks; determined and hard worker young people ever met! Surprised to be greeted in our respective names, me and my flatmate, we get engaged in the conversation like we knew each other for a long time. On a day like that one, you wish that the road to the office should be longer or wish the traffic jam, but I am telling you, it will never happen. For sure, it didn’t for me!

Surprisingly, within a single week, what were my fears becomes my strength; I knew almost what the social responsibility department was doing and the team was amazing, lovely, very supportive and inspiring! The time was unique and transformative. But, did I tell you about my first day at the office Just introductions, cupping, welcome gifts, a delicious lunch, and a drop home to cover the day. Thus, immersion sessions help me to settle in from the first day.

With my interests in sustainable development and improving communities’ well-being; the corporate social responsibility was the nice place; to understand how a big company should invest in the community where they are sourcing most of their products. Got many insights on these aspects; for sustainability, you have to value commodities before your personal interests. The law is very simple: “poor commodity, poor products, and low interests!” The other way around is true and that is the secret. Starbucks partners* at HQ are thoughtful, smart and inspiring; happy that I spent few days with them.  It worth noting that those commodity/ raw materials are the results of a man is effort and fruit of his labor.

In fact, some company or organizations succeed and others failed. With my experience with NGos and thirsty of understanding how big companies operate so that they can succeed in this competitive world, I discovered one other interesting thing. And, I want to share it with you so that you can use it to unleashing your potential. Learn this at Starbucks: “when you value your employees (co-works), you increase ownership in their work, dedication to your firm and commitment in their respective duties. This will lead you to success.” How many of you wonder about your employee’s weekend plan? The team always did, and what are you waiting for? Such simple things are the one that makes difference; it may worth less, but it means all for them.

There some people in this world you should stay with few minutes and change your destiny; transforms you. They inspire you. They believe in and ask you to believe in yourself as well. Summing up his pieces of advice; believe in yourself, read, be selective, don’t rush, make mistakes and choose the right partner for your life. He concluded by saying: “Believe in Your dreams” That is the advice from the man behind Starbucks’ success, Howard Schultz.

I can’t imagine how those six weeks went fast but I can remember exactly lot of things I learned there. From skills development through public speaking to professional development in ethical sourcing, climate change adaptation and mitigation, youth engagement, and sustainable development; to list few.

My favorite and inspirational moment were the official lunch of UpStanders; ordinary people making extraordinary things! This was not only inspiring but one of the best humanitarian acts I have ever seen before. This proved too many of us that we still have the little thing to do in our community that should shape someone else’s future. Just try your best, God will do the rest. When you will look backward and connect the dots, you will be happy. Do you need a link, just let me know!

Did I miss my home? For sure, I did and especially my soul mate after the goodbye tears 13 weeks ago. Now, I am settled into my life, I am missing the moments spent together with Peter, Isaac and Starbucks partners; community services, immersion sessions, weekend trips, potluck and parties, beer after work, baseball game, joke and stories, dinners at your respective places. That was awesome and I am happy for the big family.

Among the best things I learned is that I have to believe in my dreams, know that it will not be like a straight line and that no one else, but for me, will equip me with success. There are the things only you can do. No matter whether there are small; all trees were once seedlings not to say seeds. Moreover, I learned that I have to be impeccable with my words, that I don’t have to take things personally, that I don’t have to assume and mostly that I will have just to do my best, not little not more. I will always thank my supervisor for the Four Agreement book

As it said in Kinyarwanda, Agashyushye ntigahora mu itama, I had to go home and start implementing what I learned all along. Transforming the community, it not a one-day activity. It is like building a house; without the strong foundation, you are sunk, work hard on yourself and give time title time!

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*Dedicate to Starbucks partners we met; thank you for ALL: …, books and pieces of advice.

*Can’t list them here but they are ALL Starbucks Coffee Company Partners, Seattle WA.

Was it just the beginning?

As it is said, whatever happens in your life, you are the one who attracted it; read this for the first time in “The secret by Rhonda Byrne” that I invite you to read if you didn’t! With the thirst to transform the world and make a positive impact in my community, I have been looking for a perfect match till Mandela Washington Fellowship! At the begging, it did not make sense because my dream is bigger than me and risks undertook were significant.

Every little thing you are doing in your school, your community … counts! You have to have passion and keep increasing your knowledge and skills in the area of interest, build strong networks, and share with others what you are doing. Thus, I have been selected among thousands of applicants to spend six weeks in the US. Luckily, I was placed at The University of Maine to increase my knowledge in climate change adaptation and mitigation and green initiatives.

Maine, being one among the beautiful place in the US on the East coast; it was my very first time to hear about this unique state, but I was not the only one! Upon my arrival in Maine, I was impressed by how it was green and clean, and how people were friendly and interactive. Amazingly, I met 24 other fellows from 17 different African countries who raised me up in all aspects of life!

The six weeks at UMaine were awesome; discussions which never ended, academic sessions on climate change and green initiatives, field trips, hands-on experience in building solar panel, playing new games like baseball, cultural exchanges such as potlucks and salsa dance, home stay family weekend, trying something new like lobster, recreation at lake house and hiking at Acadia National Park, and peers-to-peers meet up, to list few! Didn’t know that time can fly.

As a young passionate environmentalist, with a focus on the use of Geo-Information in environment and sustainable development, learn a lot of things that I will take home mostly in my career. Climate Reanalyzer is one among other interesting tools that will help me in addressing the data deficiency that most of organizations and institutions are facing.

Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it is done!” This was unique experience that I have never thought about before. Thus, there are a lot of opportunities around us. With the abundance mentality, young people have to start fighting for what they believe in as long as it is good for them and others. To be honest, it will never be easy but in the end, you will realize that it worth it. Take one step; it will lead you to the next one.

For young activists and future leaders, all it takes is to have a clear mission and vision of what you want in your life and start working on your initiatives; none will do it for you, but they will do it for themselves. Did I go home at the end of an academic institution? No; time to get hands on experience at Starbucks Coffee Company in Corporate Social Responsibility.

This was just the beginning of a long life transformation journey and I know that It will never be a straight line; will have ups and downs but will keep pushing till the end line!

What you need to know about climate change!

The most important regions for biodiversity conservation in Africa

The Albertine Rift extends from the northern tip of Lake Albert down to the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika covering Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda. The Albertine Rift is one among the most important regions for biodiversity conservation in Africa. It contains more vertebrate species than any other region on the continent and contains more endemic species of vertebrate than any other region on mainland Africa. It has been identified as a region of great importance for conservation of biodiversity; eco-region, biodiversity hotspot and endemic bird area.

Does really the changing climate have any impact on us*?  

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Drought has an impact on food security and therefore on us (Photo:Prudence N.)

The changing climate which is directly or indirectly attributed to human activities alters the composition of the global atmosphere. There are numerous potential negative effects on environment, biodiversity, development initiatives in your community, your region and worldwide.

Climate change which is man-made phenomenon is expected to intensify regional contrasts in precipitation that already exist; dry areas are expected to get even drier and wet areas even wetter. The snows on the top of mountains are decreasing in extent, thickness, and duration.

Dramatically, organisms attempt to acclimate to a changing environment or move to a more favorable location but climate change threatens to push some species beyond their ability to adapt. And this might lead to the extinction of some species and increasing number of threatened species.

Thus, it will increase stress on farming and threaten global food security as more than 80% of our daily diet is directly from biodiversity. Reflecting on Malthus’ theory and considering the current high population growth rate in the region; climate change will increase pressure on natural resources and lead to poverty, starvation, misery and wars at a certain point if nothing is done right now; that is a personal reflection!

Does climate change mitigation matter*?

Does climate change mitigation matter
Albertine Rift countries are low GHG emitters but more affected (Photo: Prudence N.)

There are a number of actions, measures and solutions to address this cross cutting and global concern. Although, mankind has to make choices; they have first of all to control carbon dioxide emission as the main greenhouse gases contributing to global warming which result on fossil fuels burning mostly.

Human have to use energy efficiently, expand the use of low and zero carbon emitting sources of energy such as solar and wind energy. The use of biogas energy in remote area has proved to be effective, low cost, and enquires adequate technologies.

Therefore, defined as an anthropogenic intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mitigation ranges from small activities in your community to global ambitions and commitment.

Does climate change adaptation matter*?

Does climate change adaptation matter_National effort
Radical Terraces in Nyamagabe district, Rwanda (Photo: Prudence N.)

The IPCC defines adaptation as an adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. Due to its complexity, adaptation progress and efforts should be assessed within local contexts.

Thus, adaptation planning and response efforts are under way in Albertine Rift countries; much of the nation’s experience is in protecting its people, resources, and infrastructure. Responding to climate change is about making choices in the face of risk. Any course of action carries potential risks and costs; but doing nothing may pose irreversible risks and great impacts towards biodiversity and human kind in general.

Does really my action or initiative matter?

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Tree Planting as small and individual effort to face Climate Change (Photo: 2FA)

There are different ways to address climate change, one among cross cutting and global concern, related issues. Each method has his advantages and disadvantages; you have to find a synergy between all the methods and approaches so that you can maximize the efforts in facing this changing climate. Therefore, you shall first seek to mitigate the causes of climate changes, which are well known, so that you should think about adaptation measures.

Of cause, individuals, communities, national, regional, and global effort are required in order to face this changing climate for future generations. No matter how small should be your initiative; the whole World relies on it! From planting one tree in your community to restoration of thousands acres, or from harvesting rain water at your roof to construction of sophisticated water plants; you should act locally and make a global impacts.

However, global and well coordinated efforts are required; everyone has a role to play, mostly we youth, and together we shall build community where people live in harmony with nature, resilient…everything else can wait!

*Consulted IPCC publications