#YouthDay2015: One-on-One with Community Champion, Wilson Amooro

Young people are the future hence the need to actively involve them in the development process from the early stage. Today, Africa and the world all-over celebrates the annual United Nation’s International Youth Day under the theme “Youth Civic Engagement” to promote young people’s effective inclusive engagement at all levels while at the same time providing an opportunity for young people to learn from those young people already engaging in various policy programmes.

This year, for International Youth Day, we celebrate African youths who are shaping Africa’s future for the better (See our previous posts from today).

As part of our community champion series, we will be celebrating Wilson Ayinbangya Amooro, a young Ghanaian Poet and social-entrepreneur, who use his social enterprise to empower rural women and children to be economically buoyant by creating recycled products from the trash.

Trash4Books is a community cleanup initiative marrying environment activism and education. The initiative teaches women to make products such as woven baskets from recycled plastic, and then sell them for a profit.

We had a brief chat with Wilson and here is an excerpt of our conversation.

Please tell us the story behind the creation ofTrash4books Ghana and how it works?

I started Trash4Books Ghana from my national service allowance, as a self-motivated nurse intern.

My community initiative was coined to literally transform Ghana and Africa as a whole. Simple but profound, recycling plastic water sachets and making marketable products will be beneficial to the world environment resulting in less trash, keeping our communities clean and disease free, while promoting reading and to generate revenue helping to empower the rural women that create recycled products to sell from plastic water sachets. Participating kids that collect trash are rewarded with a book of their choice when a mobile library visits selected rural schools and locations, an incentive for them donating trash beginning with 200 impoverished kids from 5 selected rural communities that have benefited from this pilot project.

With a well-executed clean-up plan, Ghana can wipe out malaria and other diseases: less health care costs. Clean gutters: less floods, more recycling jobs, creating a whole set of new industries and non polluted water ways. Above all, a very well disciplined, motivated, proud, neat and organized Ghana. Then whatever challenge life throws at us, we are prepared to take it on.
If as a people, Ghana can accomplish a simple and fundamentally worthy task, like cleaning our own country, then the reality to manage the more complex issues like the economy, corruption, lawlessness, electricity, water, fiscal responsibility etc. will be evident. We must first master the fundamentals to acquire such discipline.

 

What model does your organisation adopt to convert trash to valuables?

Trash4Books Ghana has since grown beyond our imagination with the help of God. Its mother newly adorn as TREE stands for Transformation. Recycle. Education. Eco-music.

We have a multi-facet program combining recycling, education, classical music and women empowerment. TREE stands for Transforming our society through Recycling; teaching children social responsibility and empowering local women economically that make recycled products, Education; for a happier, healthier Ghana and Eco-Music; using classical music to inspire creative solutions to everyday problems.

As stated earlier, our participating kids donate trash in exchange for learning materials a reward for their commitment to keep the environment clean. We then, donate the trash mostly plastic water sachet to our women who weave recycled baskets and other products to sell for profit.

 

What model does your organisation adopt to convert trash to valuables?

The model we are using is feasible and of value.

We are working with local women that weave baskets and other items from recycled plastic and rubber, producing Eco-friendly, value added products. We then sell these items online to a worldwide market. We want to tie this program to a sound business model. We don’t want to create a structure where we are relying on donations. That’s the failure of a lot of NGOs. With our Classical Music program we are working on a  Music instruments factory and recycling center.  Our goal is getting the investment dollars to create a factory where we can make recycled paper instruments. We are looking for real investors not donors.
Your organisation work in rural communities. What is the most important thing to note as a development worker when working in/with rural communities?

The most important thing to note as a development worker working with rural communities is that rural doesn’t necessarily mean poor. Those living in rural communities just have a different way of life and different norm.

Today is International Youths Day and the theme is on how Young people can actively participate in civic engagement. How do you think young people can get involved?

Here is my opinion:

You cannot spell ‘’us’ without ‘u’

I need you and you need me to build us.

The world belongs to us. The world is a reflection of what we made of it yesterday.

Dear African youth, Africa needs us beyond Facebook, English premiere leagues, telenovelas, fake hair, six packs and other unnecessary fuss.

Africa needs our most important asset our mind. To create, invent and innovate to turn our trials into triumphs.

It will take Africans to solve the root causes of Africa’s problems.

Some young people are existing and others are living. Which one are you?

I am infinite; I am here to sow viable seeds by the daily decisions I make, never to die before I am dead.

Africa doesn’t need leaders; Africa needs servants.

I believe in the vibration and energy of the emerging African youth to serve Mama Africa.

The sky is not the limit; the limit is in our minds.

Thank you Wilson for our contribution and Happy International Youths Day!

Thank you Busayo once again, for this opportunity to share our inspiring story to the world. Continued blessings to your great works!

 

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde