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ARC Home > News and Resources > News archive:

BBC World Service features ARC's Uganda partner

March 25, 2012:

Hajjat Sebyala Aphwa addressing ARC's Nairobi conference in 2011.

The conservation work of ARC Partner Hajjat Sebyala Aphwa and her Gomba Women's Greening Project in Central Uganda was hailed as 'brilliant' in a BBC World Service 'Heart and Soul' radio programme broadcast worldwide on March 25, 2012.

A BBC reporter visited Hajjit as part of a series called 'Living Along Africa's Faultlines' which is investigating the impact of religious division between Islamic and Christian communities across Central Africa. The interview identified the considerable contribution Hajjat and the project have made to the environment - since February 2010 it is estimated that she has been responsible for the planting of over 50,000 trees - but it also highlighted the unifying effect such conservation work has had across traditional community divisions between the Christian majority and the Islamic minority.

For Hajjat (known locally as 'Hajjat of the Trees') this is obvious: "If there is a natural disaster such as climate change everybody is affected equally, this is why we must work in harmony (to prevent it). … I make sure I involve Christian families (in the project) … and we are getting to learn even more about the teachings of other religions. I really love this journey - this Green journey!" Commentators on the BBC programme hailed the Gomba project as a 'brilliant' example of how apparently divided communities can work together on a common cause.

Uganda's annual Greening Fridays honour the environment during Ramathan.
Hajjit Sebyala Aphwawas one of many environmental activists present at a conference in Abuja, Nigeria in February 2010. At the conference, organised by the British Council and at which ARC was represented, Hajjat pledged to encourage the Mufti of Uganda to institute 'Greening Fridays', regular days dedicated to honouring the environment. These have now happened in partnership with UMSC on the second Friday of the month of Ramathan in 2010 and 2011 .

As a recognised Climate Change Ambassador for the British Council Hajjit went on to attend an important ARC-organised conference on long term environmental planning in Nairobi in 2011 and this led to the establishment of the Gomba Women Greening Project in partnership with ARC. The project trains women leaders from local mosques to plant trees and engage in environmentally friendly income-generating activities, including agroforestry and bee-keeping and has seen one Kampala mosque distribute over 30,000 seedlings to community based groups.

Uganda's second Deputy Prime Minister joins Hajjit in planting another tree.
In the World Service programme, Hajjit is able to take the BBC reporter to see the first tree she ever planted - an avocado growing by the mosque she attends - now a big tree with plenty of fruit. "It's a very nice tree, and I will not claim the fruit." she explains. "I want everybody, whoever comes when there's a ripe avocado, just to take it. It's my gift to God."

It's a generous and spiritual thought that catches the spirit of the valuable work she and her colleagues continue to do for the Ugandan environment.

You can hear the full 'Heart and Soul' programme by clicking here.

You can read more about the Nairobi 2011 conference by clicking here .

You can read more about the Abuja 2010 conference by clicking here .

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March 25, 2012:
BBC World Service features ARC's Uganda partner
The conservation work of ARC Partner Hajjat Sebyala Aphwa and her Gomba Women's Greening Project in Central Uganda was hailed as 'brilliant' in a BBC World Service 'Heart and Soul' radio programme broadcast worldwide on March 25, 2012.