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'Climate Conversation' Videos on Kenya Available

November 7, 2014

World Renew and the Office of Social Justice are making available four short films documenting a tour that several Christian Reformed Church members, and others, took in spring 2013 to see first-hand the impact of climate change in Kenya.

Early next year, the films — already cut down from 150 hours of footage — will be made available for churches to use in education programming that addresses the creation-care issue. Accompanying the videos will be a discussion guide.

“We are still working on them and are looking to have them in a high quality format early in the year. For now, the videos can be streamed from YouTube,” says Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, creation care coordinator for World Renew and OSJ.

Featuring the overall title “Climate Conversation: Kenya,” the three-to-five minute videos are divided into “The World We Have Been Given,” “A Sacred Trust,” “The Ongoing Story,” and “Firstfruits of a New Creation.”

Each of the films shows the Kenyan landscape, featuring animals, trees, farm fields, and rolling hills in this hot, relatively arid country.

But they also show areas that have been affected — and in some cases devastated — by the changes in climate.

The main focus, though, is on people and their stories of climate change.

“What we have are stories of farmers, development workers and others who talk about what is happening in Kenya,” says Meyaard-Schaap.

“They talk about how climate change is affecting them and what they are doing about it.”

For them, they say, climate change is not a debate—it is something they are “touching” daily.

“This (climate change) affects the poor first,” says Peter Vander Meulen, coordinator of OSJ, in one of the videos. “They live in the most vulnerable environment.”

For instance, during their two-week trip, they saw the results of a massive mudslide that occurred when a year’s worth of rain fell in one month on a village, flattening buildings, including a hospital.

They also spoke to a man who relayed how the warming ocean is killing coral and causing fish to die, making it harder for people to fish for a living.

The same man says his brother, because of a drought the previous summer, lost 70 percent of his crops.  A woman with whom they spoke says they used to be able to predict and plan for when the rain would come, but no longer.

“These people have contributed very little to climate change, but are feeling most of the impact of it, which we think makes this a moral issue that the church needs to grapple with,” said Meyaard-Schaap.

People they spoke to in Kenya told them that they couldn’t understand why this was such “a paralyzing issue” for people in North America to grasp and to take action to address.

They talked of how they have long accepted it as real and have begun many efforts to adapt to it, said Meyaard-Schaap.

“They are not waiting around to let others figure this out for them,” he said.

One of the films features a farmer who talks about how he has been able to grow healthy yields of maize by placing mulch between the rows of corn and other methods as part of a practice called “conservation agriculture.”

He grows enough to feed his family, to sell at the market and to donate to his church, the farmer says.

Another farmer talked about how many people in Kenya have begun to realize that cutting down the trees is a bad idea, since it denudes the land, making it vulnerable to rain run-off.

Also, without trees, insects that help to pollinate crops either die or go elsewhere.

Yet another man spoke of how they built a sand dam to contain water so people in his area have water for their use.

One of the men in a video says he would like to see the church play a bigger role in bringing awareness to and finding solutions for the issue of climate change.

“We really need drastic action,” he says. “I begin thinking who is best fit to address this. I think the church based on its pride in Kenya and its own sustainable existence can really have an impact.”

Synod 2012 accepted a task force report on the issue of creation care stewardship and recommended that churches take action in many ways to care for creation and advocate for policies that seek to address the effects of a changing climate close to home.

To watch the videos and download the discussion guide, visit: