24 Hours of Reality: St John the Divine’s Orphan Outreach

On the 29th of October, the African Climate Reality Project (ACRP) participated in Climate Reality’s annual 24 Hours of Reality event at Saint John the Divines Orphan Outreach Centre in Mohlakeng, Johannesburg. 24 Hours of Reality is a global day of action undertaken by thousands of Climate Reality Leaders around the world. This year’s theme, “Let’s Get Real” had Climate Leaders demand action from world leaders attending COP26. Messages were shared across the globe calling for those in power to put an end to greenwashing and empty promises and get REAL on climate action.

In addition to signing the Zero Emissions | Omission’s petition to call on the African Development Bank to stop funding fossil fuels, Climate Leaders across Africa participated in activities under the Sink Our CO2 Campaign to take action for Africa’s forests and soils.  When protected and managed in a people-centred approach, forests and soils play a pivotal role and tremendous ecosystem function in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – what we call a carbon sink.

Together with ACRP’s host organisation, Food & Trees for Africa, the team planned a day of action at the orphan outreach centre. We kickstarted the day with an educational and inspiring Watch Party, screening episodes from the Not on Our Soil – A Climate Justice Reality docuseries to spark conversation about what it means to be a community of active citizens in the face of climate and social injustices in South Africa. 

Following the watch party, ACRP Campaign Coordinator Dean Bhebhe engaged the children, staff, and alumni of the outreach centre in an interactive discussion on the importance of trees. Although they were already clued up, they all learned some valuable facts and information on the vital role trees play in our lives.

The youth also had a few surprises in store for us. The team was enthralled by a series of delightful entertainment activities, including a drama play followed by vibrant song and dance.

Beginning as a church-based outreach in 2002, St. John’s responded to the plight of vulnerable children that were orphaned as a result of the HIV/AIDs pandemic. The facility provides home-based care, driven by the goal of providing a safe family environment for orphaned children while teaching them how to live a good life. Children at the facility are equipped to thrive and taught to think of themselves as trees – that their roots can grow deep, they can provide fruit and shade, and grow tall and strong if they are in the right season of their lives and given the tools they need to bloom.

Finally, it was time to head outside for some planting action. After a quick lesson on tree planting by FTFA staff member Jeminah Mkhize, we broke off into smaller groups to plant trees. At the end of a successful day, a total of 22 trees were planted, many of which were fruit trees.

“The trees we plant today will be around for generations to come. They also give us hope for the future and inspire us with a vision to continue.”

– Patricia Salome Marite, Managing Director of the facility.

A special thanks to Jeminah Mkhize for coordinating the day of action with Saint John the Divine’s Orphan Outreach Centre.

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