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‘I had to find one way to make a difference’

Words by Smiley Team

After the climate crisis destroyed his family farm in Uganda, 23-year-old Nyombi Morris set out to do all in his power to tackle this global challenge. Putting his agricultural skills to new use, he started planting trees in hope that he can protect the planet for future generations.

It was deeply troubling for Nyombi when fluctuating weather forced his family to relocate from the countryside to Kampala. “I witnessed season changes more than 20 times during harvest time," he said. "When you expect rain, the sun shines. When you expect sunshine, there was rain and not normal rain but heavy rain. So most of the time our crops were destroyed and that was the only way we could survive.”

Instead of losing hope, he searched for solutions. In 2019, Nyombi discovered one through meeting Vanessa Nakate, the founder of Youth for Future Africa and Africa-based Rise Up Movement, who attended the World Economic Forum with Greta Thunberg in 2020.

“When I first saw her, she was standing in front of our parliament. I tried every possible way to meet her. One day I met her and she accepted me into her movement,” Nyombi recalled. Having experienced the climate crisis first hand, he understood the importance of combating this issue, and with his confidence restored that something could be done, this became his main focus in life.

Nurturing nature for future generations

With time and dedication, Nyombi became the social media manager at Rise Up Movement and an ambassador for the UN’s humanitarian effort, OCHA. But he still felt he could do more.

“I had to find one way to make a difference,” he explained. As well as the worrying changes in temperature, he had noticed Uganda’s forests were fast disappearing. So to reverse this, he decided that the best thing he could do was dedicate his time to restoring trees and ecosystems.

“In my country, there has been a mindset that when you plant trees they can be used as a source of wealth by the time you reach retirement, making money through selling timber. But I don't believe in that,” he said.

His farming background gives him a special understanding of how trees offer vital carbon sinks and protection against flooding. “They also help us trap heavy winds,” he said. “A person like me, who grew up with farmers knows what it means to experience heavy winds. I still recall what they did to us.”

He likes to plant trees in communities as well as schools, where the children particularly enjoy having fruit growing in their playgrounds. It’s also an opportunity for him to teach younger generations about how to prioritise nature, with the help of his friends Edwin Namakanga, Hans Tenywa Samuel, Solomon Anomet Ojay, and Mutabazi Ronald. 

Ever the optimist, he has faith that young people will successfully beat climate change. He said: “If the next generation are to become the next leaders, then that gives me hope that our future is bright. Our voices can hold decision-makers accountable if we use them well.”

To support Nyombi and other African climate activists like him, visit Rise Up Movement’s website.

For updates about Nyombi’s work follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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