Nestled in a plastic lawn chair under the soft shade of a mango tree, Elakune Joseph is preparing to lead a Cluster meeting in Soroti, Uganda. He’s helping TIST to expand in this difficult region; as a young man, its particularly important that he’s when the meeting starts. It’s not every day that someone so youth in this community are given a chance to lead.
Joseph explained that he encourages his peers to join his Cluster by discussing the many benefits one experiences with TIST. These include trainings, carbon payments, new crops, and agricultural improvement. In particular, he’s working to recruit other young people. TIST Clusters are strengthened by their diversity. Younger members are often more physically able than their elders, and can help with more difficult tasks, including digging trenches and tree planting. Joseph’s goal is to convince youth members to join TIST so that all his Cluster members can work together to earn carbon payments.
While recruitment is Joseph’s key responsibility, he has taken it upon himself to learn everything he can from TIST about the environment and different farming techniques. Joseph explains that, through TIST, he has learned about the many benefits of trees (including their ability to sequester CO2 and mitigate climate change), improved agricultural practices, and public speaking techniques.
Countries like Uganda are rapidly urbanizing as youth move to cities to search for opportunity. By creating economic and environmental benefits at home, Joseph’s work with TIST is strengthening rural communities and helping to alleviate this pressure. When asked about the most important lesson he has learned along the way, Joseph beamed, “When humans coexist with the environment, everyone benefits!”
Joseph has his own farm filled with teak, grevillea, mango, orange, guava, and acacia trees. He recently finished his last year of university. Soon he hopes to start an agriculture business and sell his products throughout the country.
With a permanent smile etched onto his face, Joseph exclaimed that he lives by the motto that “you can make the environment happy and succeed at the same time,” and that he plans to do just that.
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