“For it to be, it’s up to me“
Sunday Geoffrey is a 2020 trained Climate Reality Leader, passionate climate justice, and SDG advocate. He is a community leader, a true lover of nature with a strong interest and knowledge working in marginalized and vulnerable communities. He served as an Office Assistant with International Organizations including the African Union for over 12 years before creating Support Humanity Cameroon (SUHUCAM), a grassroots Humanitarian, Development, and environmental organization in 2017. Sunday has led the implementation of several initiatives at the grassroots including the planting of 9000 trees, catchment area conservation, and capacity building programs for smallholder farmers.
In order to understand the root of his passion and dedication, we had to take it back to where it all started for Sunday Geoffrey. Sunday grew up on the farm, raised by his father who was a farmer. Growing up, he remembers hearing his dad complain about soil degradation several times but did not comprehend what soil degradation was. His father’s crop yields kept decreasing, his community witnessed acute water shortage was water sources were drying up, and the community believed that they were being cursed, the traditional leaders thought these problems could be solved traditionally. He remembers a parliamentarian from Cameroon; Awudu Mbaya Cyprian, who was very passionate about climate change issues and was all over the media raising awareness about climate change issues. Sunday took note of that but did not think that he would also be involved in such issues one day.
Sunday then went to pursue his studies in the school of International Relations where he did Development Studies and once again the subject of climate change came up but he did not pay much attention because his main objective was to focus on community development and youth empowerment. He further went to the University of Yaounde and pursued his studies in English Modern Letters and African Civilizations, he was very interested in writing and wrote collections of poems. Sunday met a prominent member of the society, the former Minister of Wildlife in Cameroon Pr. Elvis Ngole who was very passionate about the issue of climate change. He then decided to write a poem titled “Consume with Care” to the Minister of Wildlife but it did not reach him. He kept it in his collection of poems and forgot about it until years later when his younger sister participated in inter-school creative competition and recited the poem. His sister came first place in the competition in the Center Region of Cameroon and had to present the poem to the Minister of Environment and other international organizations during an event to mark the celebration of World Environment Day. This however didn’t mean much to Sunday as he still didn’t see this as advancing the course of climate change.
In 2016, Sunday started a community development/ empowerment organization where he brought his classmates and some of his peers together. One of his peers that he approached strongly suggested that they include environmental issues as one of the main issues that they will focus on as an organization because this was after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Sunday was still adamant to accept his friend’s suggestion because this was not his passion and he did not have sufficient knowledge on the subject but eventually after long consideration, he decided to do it. In 2019, as his knowledge grew he started fully immersing himself in climate change issues.
As Sunday’s knowledge broadened he started focusing on planting trees because deforestation was a primary issue in Cameroon in general and his community in particular. Even though he did not study environmental management or climate change, he enrolled in some short courses on environmental issues as a way to empower himself and learned tree planting techniques which is something he dearly loves. For Sunday, planting trees is a way of bringing communities together for the greater good. He started planting trees in his community with the hope that this will not only solve environmental problems but also provide an alternative means of livelihood to the community and strengthen social cohesion between grazers and farmers who are the most affected by climate change and who for years have been fighting over access to water and land.
Sunday continues taking climate action because he believes that he has a responsibility to act and inspire other people with his actions. His main focus is bringing in the marginalized women when tackling climate change and planting the right trees at the right time. So far, Sunday has planted over 9000 trees and he continues to grow his tree planting techniques and monitor the trees he plants. Sunday understands not only the importance but also the urgency of taking action and he has learned to do things himself instead of waiting for the government to assist financially. He has made so many sacrifices and at some point even took money from his own pocket to support his initiatives, when funds ran out Sunday sold his livestock so that he can afford to buy resources and support activists from his community.
In addition to planting trees, Sunday is also passionate about increasing climate change literacy. He engages in climate change advocacy programs with different schools in Cameroon where he educates secondary school kids about climate change, its impacts, and the solutions.
“The Climate Reality Leadership Corps was the best thing that happened to me in 2020.”
In July 2020, he found information about The Climate Reality Project training online when he was looking for opportunities to strengthen his capacity during the Covid19 pandemic. He was surprised to find free training programs so he grabbed the opportunity with both hands, even though the training was very intense and demanding because some days he stayed up until midnight to complete his sessions and training activities. Despite these challenges, Sunday describes the training as the best thing that happened to him in 2020.
As fulfilling as his journey has been, it has not been without challenges. The biggest challenge that Sunday faces is security issues due to the ongoing political unrest in his country. He remembers one traumatic day on his way back from a tree planting event, he was beaten and arrested but luckily was later released on the same day because the people in his community knew that his activities had nothing to do with politics. Lack of resources is another great challenge he faces year in and year out but this does not stop Sunday to continue raising climate change awareness.
Sunday believes that the climate change problem is too big to be handled by one person so it’s important to collaborate with other people in the same space and share knowledge. His hope is to increase collaboration with other Climate Reality Leaders and changemakers on the continent of Africa to educate, engage and strengthen the resilience of rural and indigenous communities in mitigating and adapting to the adverse effects of climate change. He seeks a world where everyone, irrespective of their status, is given equal access to opportunities, a world where no one goes to bed hungry, and a world where humans live in true harmony with nature.