Kenyan Students Build Fire Victims' New Homes

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Ribena, Ribena Kids Always Recycle, GlaxoSmithKline, Westgate Mall, Nairobi, Kenya, Africa, students, recycling

Students gather around an informational booth at the launch of the Ribena Kids Always Recycle campaign at Westgate Mall in Nairobi. Photo: GlaxoSmithKline

Hundreds were left helpless and homeless earlier this year when a fire swept through a low-income neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya. That is, until a group of school children donated enough construction materials to give 500 families new homes. And what’s even more amazing is what the materials were made from – recycled soft drink pouches.

Students from 80 Nairobi primary schools and kindergartens participated in a program to recycle Ribena soft drink tetra paks – which local recycling firm Ekotech recently turned into roofing materials for displaced families in the Mukuru Kwa Reuben district. The donation is the culmination of a three-month long campaign initiated by the National Environment Management Authority, Tetra Pak East Africa and GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of the Ribena beverage.

Students participating in the program – dubbed Ribena Kids Always Recycle – received education about environmental stewardship and the benefits of recycling. To add a little fun to the mix, pupils also competed with neighboring schools to collect the most tetra paks.

The winning school was awarded 50,000 Kenyan shillings (KES), or about $500, for school supplies, reports The Standard – a regional Kenyan newspaper. Awards of 30,00 KES ($300) and 20,000 KES ($200) were given to the second and third place schools.

In addition to winning cash for school supplies, students from Thika Road Christian School – who dominated the competition by collecting 1,902 waste packets – were given the opportunity to present the construction materials to Mukuru families in a donation ceremony this week, reports Coastweek.com – an online African news source.

Peace Junior Academy and Ruaraka Academy received second and third place awards, collecting 1,245 and 1,208 tetra paks respectively. In total, Nairobi students collected 16,097 tetra paks over the course of the campaign – far surpassing a target of 10,000 packets.

The campaign may have come to a close, but students impacted by environmental education said their recycling efforts are just beginning.

“We will continue to conserve the environment even after this campaign,” one pupil told Coastweek.com. “We are proud that what would have harmed the environment has been turned into useful building materials that will help those in need.”

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