The story of APE Earth Citizen Award 2016 winner, Clifford Akwana

Earlier this year, APE awarded the Earth Citizen Award to Clifford Akwana to acknowledge the inspiring work Clifford has done in Kayole, Nairobi – a place that is beset by economic and environmental problems.

Clifford who is 27 and married with one child, first came to our attention when he applied to APE for funding to support his WOPA Tyre Shoe Project – an innovative scheme designed to create employment for young people in Kayole, Nairobi whilst simultaneously using waste products (tyres) and producing affordable shoes. We were suitably impressed and decided to support the project. Alongside these projects, Clifford also ran two more: The Green Africa Collection – a jewellery collection made from recycled materials and a school project in Soweto slum, assisting disadvantaged and destitute children to access education.

remoteimage-doWith Clifford’s clear ingenuity and dedication, it seemed only right to award him the APE Earth Citizen Award of 2016 with a donation of £500. This award was created to honour and acknowledge the important work being done by unsung heroes, often in the most difficult of circumstances. It recognises the amazing work from the people who beaver away tirelessly for the good of others without expecting personal gain.

We’ve caught up with Clifford since he won the award earlier in March 2016 to discuss how our donation of £500 has helped him and those around him…

Clifford Akwana: 

remoteimage-do-6“I was excited when I received the award. Receiving the award was a sign of a great recognition that simple, dedicated unaware acts can be appreciated by others. It gave me more strength and courage to continue doing well towards bettering the earth and the environment.

When I received the award I was at Wopa Education Centre doing artwork with kids. I logged in to my mail and i couldn’t believe when I saw the message from APE congratulating me as the first winner of Earth Citizen Award for 2016.

I was with the Wopa project kids and project members when I heard the good news about the award. The award was handed to me by Kenny Young through Lorna Howarth from APE via postal mail.I celebrated with my family, friends and organization members, after receiving the award.

remoteimage-do-3The plans that I made after receiving the award were:

  1. Expanding the capacity of community school for orphans and destitute children’s.

2. Re-stocking and institute ultramodern community library and talent centre.

I expected difficulties on inadequate funds, high cost of materials and equipment’s due to inflection.

With the award I expanded the school by adding more classes, hiring more staff, school materials like desks, chairs and stationaries. With this, it gave more room for orphans with the community. Since there is no any library in my constituency, I expanded the library capacity giving more room to students that are in both primary, secondary and collages. To utilize the space I also used the class rooms as the Training Centre for general arts e.g. dance, music’s, drawing, among others within the environmental theme.

The Wopa team made up of concerned parents and the community where the ones who generally assisted in the construction of new classes.

remoteimage-do-2My plans will generally benefit youths with special needs, youths in schools, out of school youths, orphans kids, parents who cant get tuition fee for their children’s, talented youths both boys and girls and the entire community in slums of Kayole and Soweto in embakasi constituency, Nairobi.

The major challenge that I encountered were high cost of materials due to insufficient funds. And lack of enough reading materials like books. The success that I have is that the school is functioning, there is more room for students and youths can now showcase their talents and training. The Centre has also been a talent tapping center and has ensured the otherwise idle youths are involved in a range of activities, which are ultimately preventing different social vices such as crime, drug abuse and immorality.

I obtained the supplies from well-wishers and community in general. The only difference in the plan is that the youths and destitute children’s can now access education and the platforms to showcase their talents

remoteimage-do-5I have learned that if youths are given more opportunities like a platform to showcase their talents, funding and education, they can better their lives and the communities in general.

I’m honoured seeing more young people getting involved in environmental conservation through performing arts and orphans accessing education and reading materials.

Yours faithfully,

Clifford Akwana