By Kirsten Youens
For the past three days I have been in caucus with activists, lawyers, lawyer-activists, scientists and academics. Myself, along with the leaders of the Fuleni community organisations Phila Ndimande of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation(MCEJO), and Mxolisi Phakathi of the Ubumbano Youth Organisation(UYO), were invited to attend to share the Fuleni story.
It inspired and encouraged me to know that we have a support network like this. It scared me to know how many other lives – human, animal and ecological, are in the same predicament. Hundreds of thousands of people are adversely affected by mining. Hundreds of thousands of kilometres of land and water resources are polluted by mining. And the onslaught is relentless.
The conference enabled people to meet, exchange ideas, share thoughts and strategies as well as to simply share a meal and a story and to feel the solidarity. CER and CALS are two organisations that are doing amazing things in the area of environmental justice. Coming from a situation where I know how difficult it is so support cases against huge, wealthy mining companies, these organisations are truly making a difference where no other attorneys are willing to help due to lack of fees.
Phila and Mxolisi presented the Fuleni story in a way that exposed the difficulties that have been faced (and continue to face) but also showed the courage of the community and the foresight of the youth in their inspirational vision in UYO.
“Where there is unity, there is victory” and I am feeling particularly victorious right now.