Save the Elephants and Meet Yustina!

Sega girls on skype call

Sega girls on skype call

Yesterday afternoon, Sega’s new Anti Ivory club held a skype video call with China and California.  This was a first for the Sega girls, most of whom have never heard of skype or seen it in action.  The club was just started a few weeks ago and I’m proud to say it was through a contact of mine that it happened!

I’ve never been able to get into the whole social media thing.  However, in this case, it did what it’s supposed to do. A professional acquaintance of mine now working with an elephant welfare organization, JulietteSpeaks, found me on LinkedIn last month and saw that I am working at a school in Tanzania. She contacted me about whether Sega would like to become the pilot school in Africa for their Global Youth Against the Ivory Trade project and now we are just that.

Killed in Tsavo less than 10 days ago

Killed in Tsavo less than 10 days ago, showing how much work there is left to do!

During the call, the technology wasn’t perfect and it was a bit hard to hear everything but it was still very exciting.  The girls spoke to Juliette West, age 17, who founded JulietteSpeaks and to Celia Ho, age 14, in Hong Kong who is also an elephant activist in the country whose citizens are the largest global consumers of ivory.  I look forward to watching Sega’s club, led by history teacher Enock Gray, contribute to this incredibly important effort to keep elephants from being wiped out.  The goal of the folks at JulietteSpeaks is for the girls to produce a video that will be taken to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) conference in Bangkok next month, representing the youth voice.

Yustina John

Yustina John

One of the 46 girls who signed up for the Sega club is Yustina John. Yustina is in Form 1 (8th grade) and what follows is her story, mostly in her own words:

My name is Yustina John. I am 16 years old and I live with my mother, brother, sister and my young sister when I am not at Sega.  My goal is to become a botanist (I know from Yustina that she’d also like to be famous and she asked me if there is a famous botanist, a question that stumped me!).  My favorite school subjects are chemistry, biology, English, geography, history and bookkeeping.  I don’t enjoy math or commerce. In my free time I like drawing and to write stories.  In my life, I want to travel from one place to another like America, India, Australia, New Zealand.  The fruits I like most are apple, orange, mango, and banana and my favorite animals are elephants and lions.

Yustina introducing herself on skype

Yustina introducing herself on skype

I feel happy when I see visitors come to school and the volunteers that live at school and help us. I love them so much.  In my life, I like to say thank you to all the people who are helping the school.  I like to ask some questions about their country and why they come to Tanzania and how they feel when they are here.   I like to stay with my friends and talk.

On holiday when I am back home the first thing that makes me happy is when I see my family and all are fine and the thing that makes me feel so bad is when I hear one of them is sick.  In my life I like to go to church.  Before my father died, he went to church and he was a good person and many people loved my father so much.  Before he died, my father worked building roads. After he was gone, life became very hard.

Mary and Yustina

Mary and Yustina

When I am back home I help my mother sell sambusa and ice cream and every morning we go to sell at a place where there are many people.  Sometimes we sell little so we get little money.  With that money we want to buy uniforms, food, clothes, exercise books, pens, school fees but that money is not enough to buy all this so we buy only the things we can with the money we have.  The place which we live at home, sometimes when it’s raining, the rain enters the house.  So that is why I study hard because I want to reach my goal. I will change the life at home. I will change the place where I live. I will do a lot of things to change my life and I will help my young sister and brother.

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5 thoughts on “Save the Elephants and Meet Yustina!

  1. Great story. Pretty amazing about girls from three different continents teaming up to save elephants. How can we donate to Sega?

  2. I have just finished reading a book called The Elephant Whisperer by Laurence Anthony, a South African running a game reserve who brought a herd of elephants to his reserve who were considered trouble and in danger of being shot for their fence-breaking behavior. He develops a deep bond with them and explores their social behaviors. They are clearly very intelligent and strongly social animals and deserve to be protected.
    I enjoyed reading about Yustina and her dreams, too. A quick search for “famous botanists” yields all of seven, with the most interesting perhaps being George Washington Carver http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_Carver
    and Barbara McClintock http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_McClintock
    (In case Yustina is looking for a report subject.)
    Thanks April for sharing these stories. See you soon!

  3. Famous Botanist ….. George Washington Carver . An African American born into slavery who developed 100s of plant based products. Many from Peanuts. A little bit of Trivia I know from having volunteered at te Carver Center…

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