By Eimantas Petraitis and Sara Winship

Lake Victoria is the world’s largest tropical lake and second-largest freshwater lake. It is Africa’s largest lake and is bordered by Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Many species of fish such as cichlids live exclusively in that lake. 

The fish of the lake are a big source of food for the people living around it. However, water hyacinth – an invasive plant species introduced by humans is growing over many parts of the lake. It reduces the amount of oxygen in the water and makes the water toxic. 

Furthermore, a lot of waste from factories and farms ends up in the lake. This negatively affects both the animals and humans who rely on the lake. 

One of the people trying to solve the environmental problems of Lake Victoria is Rahmina Paullete. Rahmina is a seventeen-year-old climate activist from Kenya. She is the leader of the #LetLakeVictoriaBreatheAgain campaign whose goal is to free Lake Victoria from pollution and the invasive water hyacinth. 

Thanks to Matthew Pye – a Philosophy teacher at the European School of Brussels II, Rahmina Paullete had the opportunity to visit the school in January and meet with students and parents. Amongst others, she met with the S5 L2 English classes of Rebecca C. Marx and Sarah Chambers. Thanks to the initiative of these teachers and their students, the students of both classes spent almost four months working on various projects to raise awareness and money for the #LetLakeVictoriaBreatheAgain campaign. Working in small groups, the student’s organised presentations, competitions, etc. 

Among the projects, a few groups have decided to organise a stand at Footfest. Footfest is a yearly one-day event at the European School of Brussels II. During Footfest various leisure activities are organised, and most importantly – stands sell food or objects to raise money for charities. Rahmina Paullete’s campaign is among the charities that will be supported by Footfest this Friday (the 5th of May). 

The stand organised by students of Ms. Marx’s and Ms. Chambers’ classes will sell baked food, second-hand clothing, and other things. It will also be possible to order products made of water hyacinth: Rahmina Paullete and other climate activists in Kenya are taking the invasive water hyacinth from Lake Victoria and using it to make hand-made baskets, table trays, and bracelets. It will be possible to order these products at the stand and they will arrive to Brussels later this year. 

Students, teachers, and climate activists involved in this challenging and exciting cross-continental project hope that as many people as possible will learn about Lake Victoria’s environmental problems, will order water hyacinth products, or buy something to support Lake Victoria. 

Eimantas Petraitis,  

Sara Winship,  

European School of Brussels II 

Image by wirestock on Freepik