My name is Billy and I am a volunteer with the AYCC in Victoria. I first heard about the AYCC through a friend during a discussion we were having about potential volunteer opportunities. She recommended them highly, and with climate change being something I already had an interest in, I was soon signing my first petitions and then expressed an interest to volunteer.
Hello! This is your team Paul, Rachel, Maddie, Jaden and Moira who were in Paris during the UN Climate Talks earlier this month! We would like to share the stories of 5 people we met there, who are living through the worst impacts of climate change and ask that their voices are heard.
Ngane Ngom - Senegal
"My country, Senegal, is the front door of western Africa. Its opening in the Atlantic Coast explains a little its vulnerability in the face of natural disasters like sea level rise, drought and floods which are having huge impact on education and access to food. Families are displaced and are forced to crowd together in temporary accommodation, where malaria and other diseases spread. We are losing our crops, and farming is becoming harder and harder. Young people have nothing to do and choose migration to Europe . Northern countries, who are responsible for these changes, need to finance adaptation for those on the frontline who have not caused climate change.
We Southern countries are the victims of climate change and Northern countries have to pay for all the damages caused."
Saiba Suso - Gambia
"It’s sad that we have to pay with our properties and our lives for something we didn’t cause. There are 1.8 million people in Gambia. We don’t have factories and we don’t create emissions, but we pay for your emissions with our lives.
We are seeing more disease, malnutrition and hunger, and we don’t have the luxury of being able to access medical services. Our entire survival is based on a few hectares of land, and because of the changing climate our crops are no longer successful. I have lost many friends who have been forced to migrate to Europe, but have died along the way.
Our message for countries that have caused climate change is this: if you break something, you need to pay for it. We are getting poorer and poorer, while the rich countries are getting richer every day."
Wadzanai Muzongo - Zimbabwe
"My community’s primary source of livelihood is farming. In 2013, floods came and washed away our crops. Hundreds of people were forced to migrate to the less affected area within the same community, in which there were only two water sources to serve about 7500 people. This resulted in the spread of diseases. We are also experiencing an excessive heat wave. This is causing severe impacts especially on women in our community, who are forced to walk many kilometers every day to collect water. Young women are now being forced into early marriage because their families can't provide food for them, and end up exchanging them for marriage to get maize.
Climate change affects everyone, but it doesn't affect everyone equally. We need climate finance. We need adaptation plans. We don't want a plan B from the world leaders, because there is no planet B."
Adekunle Akinola - Nigeria
"Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. My parents didn’t go to school. Their livelihood is agriculture. A flood washed away our crops and there was lots of hunger. Children had no money for school, and couldn’t even access transport, food, or markets. Without agriculture we cannot survive.
This is all because of industrialised countries, who are also the ones with the resources to adapt. Climate change is not about Nigeria, it is about humanity. We are not asking for much, and we are not begging for help or asking for aid. We are asking that those who are responsible, pay to fix what they have caused. Together we can change the world."
Rafaela Barges - Brazil
"This is my reality: climate change has directly affected me. These days, we don’t have enough rain to survive. Workers start to lose crops, animals start to die and there is no water to shower or drink. There is not enough money to fix the problems we are having. Imagine that you are me. You see your uncle, brother and family with no water, no food, and you have no way to help them.
I am organising young people here in my community and acting as a political voice, but it’s not enough. Our system, the capitalist system, doesn’t think of the small farmer. When our agricultures suffers from climate change, young people, unable to make food, need to migrate to the cities. There they die in drug wars and it destroys their family. It is not their fault- without the changing climate they would not leave their homes.
We are not asking for you to give us something, but to think of the solutions. We just want you to pay for everything that you cause."
Watch Rafaela's story here
As young people in Australia, we need to stand in solidarity with young people around the world who are the most impacted by climate change. We need to call for emissions reductions that will keep us below 1.5 degrees of warming, a transition from fossil fuels to renewables, and finance to be provided to those already impacted by climate change so that they are able to survive.
If you'd like to volunteer with AYCC to help create a safe climate future, sign up here!