eMBALENHLE – Mr Patrick Duma, a local environmentalist, wants to equip locals with the means to live environmentally healthy.
He used to work for Sasol in the 90s but was left with no choice but to quit his job after a long illness that he believes was caused by pollution in the area.
Mr Duma developed an interest in environmental matters and he joined Ground Work, a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organisation that is working primarily in Southern Africa in matters concerning climate and energy justice, coal, environmental health, globally green and healthy hospitals, and waste.
This is where he gained more information and obtained formal education about environmental issues.
“My perspective about life completely changed and I realised that I was ignorant about many issues in my area.
“While I was busy with Ground Work, I became part of the eMbalenhle Youth Environment Club and the Sasol Highveld Ridge Environmental Panel.”
Because of his dedication and commitment to the cause of a clean environment, Mr Duma got a job as an intern at Ground Work.
This afforded him an opportunity to travel the world and he stayed overseas for more than three months.
He said during this time he decided that he will dedicate his life to environmental health campaigns.
“Air quality and waste are integral to environmental health, while the implications of coal and climate change cannot be overstated.
“Unfortunately people are ignorant of what is happening daily.”
Mr Duma is currently working with community members to establish Govan Mbeki Environment Monitors that is expected to be launched soon.
He is the secretary for this organisation whose goal is to raise awareness of environmental issues and to engage the industry and the government regarding the matter.
“We want this organisation to provide a platform for locals, the industry and other stakeholders to engage in environmental issues.
“We are not aiming at attacking the industries or the government, but to have dialogues about pollution.”
Mr Duma encouraged people to seek information about environmental health issues and to pick up litter wherever they go and whenever you can.
“Littering also pollutes the environment and it harms animals that come into contact with it.”