Young and dynamic, Doyinsola Ogunye is the founder and president of Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for children (MEDIC) a non-governmental organization which focuses on Physical, Mental and Environmental well-being of children established in 2011. Prequel to MEDIC, she started out with the Kids Clean Club in 2009 before it metamorphosed. Having studied law at the University of Lagos and called to the Nigerian bar in 2012, Doyinsola’s dream of protecting the environment took the centre stage. She speaks with IJEOMA OPARA about her adventures with teaching young children to be environmental friendly.
Venturing into teaching young children about protecting the environment
I started when I was in my second year in the university. I wanted to do something to protect the environment while I was in school. So instead of focusing on adults I focused on children. The reason my focus is on children, is because I believe they are the future and they can also be part of something great. Over the years, we have created Kids Clean club (KCC), Tyre Playground and Kids Beach Garden where children have been actively involved. I started the Kids Clean Club in the year 2009 when I moved from one part of Lagos to another part where I wasn’t used to, where I saw the type of lifestyle the children were living and I wasn’t happy about it so I started with environmental games at first then gradually proceeded into founding the Kids Clean Club. I saw a need for a safe place for children to play and also learn with environmentally friendly materials. I started Kids Clean Club with the aim to teach children to be physically mentally and environmentally clean across Nigeria for the love of Nigeria and for a better future. The vision later grew to become the registered Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children teaching children across the state the importance of recycling, Tree Planting and the impact of climate change on the environment.
Achievements of the initiative
We have always organised and participated in the State environmental sanitation exercises and rallies. In July 2009, I single-handedly joined the then Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola on a tree planting exercise, spearheaded the creation Nigeria’s first ever Kids’ Garden (an haven for kids to come together and learn while they have fun), the first ever recycling awareness day which occurred in August 20 and October 1, 2011 in Lekki and VGC respectively in collaboration with LAWMA.
Attraction to environment and law background
My attraction is basically passion for the environment and a sense of responsibility. If we don’t take care of the earth where would lawyers work? (laughs)
Focus on young children
I believe that young children are the future of this country and they are going to be the pillars of our society so it is very important to teach them the ways to make our environment better.
Eco-system, deforestation and the society
It is not looking good at the moment due to the constant depletion of the ecosystem, but as we all know it’s never too late to try, so we can do our little bit by planting a tree. It is time we begin to sensitize ourselves and ensure that we use less nylon bags and more of paper or recycle bags; this will better protect our environment. Even the sea animals too, if we constantly have nylon bags thrown into our water ways, our fishes will not have anything to survive on. When we use more of paper bags we are protecting our eco system.
Nigeria is known to have the highest number of felling trees, which is not good for us. The oxygen we breathe is gotten from plants among other environmental repairs which protect the ecosystem. If we don’t have these trees to provide these natural resources for us, then we have to go back to where we started from. And so the Kids Clean Club have a goal of planting 50,000 trees under our ‘50k trees campaign’ with the aim to give new life to the environment, we started in May 2014 and we have planted hundreds of trees. This year we are commencing on earth day which is on the 22nd of April where 500 children would plant 500 coconut trees on the Kids Beach Garden, we are in partnership with some schools. In order to achieve this goal, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, an environmental activist and owner of Lufasi Park, will work hand in hand to sustain it as long as we can. Even the bible says in Genesis 2:15 ‘God gave us the earth to keep’. The Kids Beach Garden is the first sustainable beach in Africa, where children learn about coastal life. This is to bridge the gap of no coastal/shoreline education particularly where there are a lot of oceans and waterfronts. The beaches and coastal areas are ours to clean and enjoy. We are currently cleaning, recycling and planting so let’s have fun while doing so!
We don’t really have financial support and it’s really expensive to constantly clean and manage the beach and also there are limited resources with which we can reach our goals. For example, we wouldn’t mind if someone can donate 1000 coconut trees to our cause. We do not really have the government support we need to actualize our vision.