Happy World Tourism Day! 😀 Watamu is easily one of my favourite places in Kenya, and I recently discovered why… The Spirit of #Twaweza lives and thrives in Watamu!
A Little Backstory… What is #Twaweza?
Twaweza is a Swahili word that means “We Can!” a slogan initially adopted by Safaricom, Kenya’s leading Communications Company.
The first time I heard of #Twaweza, it tugged at my heart strings! I was genuinely moved by that “We Can” attitude that believes against all odds, and promotes the idea of people coming together to make great things happen…
As a Kenyan, it gave me hope that- hey, in spite of the challenges we face daily as a country, it is in our power to inspire change when we come together!
And if there’s one place where this spirit of #Twaweza flourishes, it’s the magical Watamu!
The Spirit of #Twaweza in Action: The Magic of Watamu!
Some time back, Safaricom invited a couple of us, to visit Local Ocean Trust Watamu, one of the projects supported by funds from the then, Safaricom Lewa Marathon.
Local Ocean Conservation Watamu, is a Non-profit Organization that works to protect Kenya’s Marine environment. One of their major aims is safeguarding the future of critically endangered Sea Turtles, while also creating sustainable livelihoods for the locals.
When you live next to the ocean, marine life inevitably becomes a part of your world and concern… And for the residents of Watamu like Nicky Parazzi who runs L.O.C, this is a reality.
It all started 22 years ago, when the Watamu residents discovered that Sea Turtles come to their shores at night, to nest and lay eggs…
Unfortunately, the survival of these Sea Turtles is at risk due to man-made causes like poaching, by-catch (getting accidentally caught in fishing nets) and ocean pollution.
Moreover, in some instances where the turtles lay their eggs too close to the water or Resorts, there’s little to no chance of survival.
So the people of Watamu began a Turtle Watch, via nightly walks along the beach, to monitor and relocate the nests. Over time this led to the establishment of Local Ocean Conservation .
On the Road to Change…
Today, Local Ocean Trust, conducts some of the most extensive research on turtles in the world!
They carry out conservation education at all levels, from kids to the elderly. Consequently , the locals have taken a stand against poaching and pollution.
The local fishermen now call on L.O.C. whenever they discover turtles caught up in their nets… Injured turtles are then rehabilitated and nurtured back to health, and later released back to the ocean.
The trash that is washed into the ocean poses a great risk to turtles, from ingestion to causing health challenges. The local community is working to address this challenge through beach clean-ups.
Furthermore, some of the trash is recycled into beautiful pieces of art.
All these efforts have, by extension, created more jobs for the locals.
We met some of the people involved in this amazing program like Newton Shungu and Fikiri… And their authentic passion for what they do was evident! 🙂
Fun Fact: To date, at least 73,000 hatchlings have been released safely into the ocean!
On our last day, we went to the beach for a Turtle release. It was a purely beautiful moment! You could almost feel its glee as the turtle wobbled its way back into the ocean!
This Turtle Watch program is just one example of how the people of Watamu live out the Spirit of #Twaweza. I admire that spirit of owning the issues they’re confronted with, and coming up with local solutions, together.
World Tourism Day: What Can You and I Do?
As we mark this day, I would love for us to reflect on what we can do to promote Tourism in a sustainable way…
Let US Practice Responsible Tourism
The only way we’ll have a world worth touring is if we take responsibility for preserving it. Wherever you go, do not litter… And strive to leave any place a little better than you found it.
Also, recycle your trash where possible and let’s avoid the use of plastic.
Get Moving & Take Action!
Consider what you can do within your sphere of influence. Perhaps you can organize monthly clean-up days in your neighborhood?
>>Take an active step to educate yourself and the people around you about how to preserve the environment.
Support Environment-Friendly Initiatives
Donate your time, money and resources to initiatives like Local Ocean Conservation who depend largely on goodwill. Any amount you give, makes a huge difference!
As you plan your trips think about how to support the local citizens… This way, our money goes back to the community, and they can afford to hire people to do clean-ups and maintain local resources.
We have the power to make a difference and give future generations the benefit of enjoying the world as we know it today.
I hope that, like the citizens of Watamu, you’ll choose to plug into the spirit of #Twaweza as we come together, to make great things happen!
Many thanks to Safaricom for making this experience possible! And to Local Ocean Conservation & Watamu Citizens, Keep On!
Tip> Check out this post on Eco World Watamu: Saving Our Oceans
Local Ocean Trust
Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear from you, leave your comment/questions and feedback down below!
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