Tenderness for Green Spaces

A great commission, whether assigned or unassigned, has the tendency to have a palpable effect on the surrounding. It is with this regard that I bring forth an article which has a personal observation from an eye-witness, Dr Ombiru Motunga, Classmate and colleague to Sister ONU Ogechukwu Theresa, who wrote: “Nothing lives for itself.“ In the words of my favorite author in her book entitled The Law of Life for the Universe, she says that “Every tree and shrub and leaf pours forth that element of life without which neither man nor animal could live; and man and animal, in turn, minister to the life of tree and shrub and leaf (1).”

Sister ONU Theresa, Daughter of the Holy Spirit, as I have come to know her, is the most selfless person. Thanks to the work of her hands, the entire Faculty of Health Sciences now enjoys a beautifully conditioned environment. Should you walk through the corridors of this institution you will not fail to notice that every ten meters of the walkways is carefully punctuated with flower pots teeming with flourishing plants and flowers that have transformed the ambience of the place. This diligent and tender care for nature not only extends to her patients but also to all those within her reach. Case in point, I have a plant of my own that she recently gifted me. There is so much more to say but summarily, Sis. Onu’s contribution to this community has been remarkable and can only be equated to making for others, a little heaven down here.

About this commission and her experiences of caring for the environment at the same time as she studied Medicine and Surgery at UoN, Sister Onu writes:  “I would affirm our esteemed University of Nairobi (UoN) as a center of academic excellence and a research intensive center which produces the best of professionals (2). Training at UoN has made me become a holistic doctor and someone skilled in care of the sick and not in isolation but who believes that the better and healthier our environment, the healthier and happier we would be. Learning at UoNfor six years has been a time of growth for me and has given me the opportunity to unlock my potential. My fellow students (now fellow doctors and colleagues in the medical profession) were very hardworking, intelligent, and challenged me to work hard.
The staff I found at UoN are highly trained, specialized, and good at their jobs yet very humble. My studying at UoN was fulfilling and has brought the best out of me and I am grateful for it all.”

“Pope Francis calls the earth ‘our common home (3) because it belongs to all of us. We are called to do all we can to mitigate further degradation of our environment, reduce global warming, reverse climate change, and make our environment a better place. It is important to acquire new competences to meet our many environmental needs of today (4). We need to be collectively responsible in caring for our environment (5). Each one of us is called to integrate environmental care into what we do bearing in mind that each one of us has a role to play where we are in orde to contribute to the beauty and health of nature. We need not leave the growing of plants to horticulturists and other farmers alone, everyone can grow one or two plants. Proper waste management, adequate use of water, reducing wastage, avoiding littering and pollution, recycling and growing of plants are some of the things I have done while studying medicine in the past years at UoN because I am convinced that they are essential aspects of care of our common home.”

“At one point, I had so much school work that I had to water the plants at night using the torchlight on my phone as I found no other time to do so. I would come on weekends especially if it has not rained to water, nurture and care for the already existing plants in the school, plant new ones and give some seedlings out to people thereby encouraging them to plant. I felt at home and collaborated with men and women that I found in the UoN including Madam Muli Petronila, madam Mosioka Catherine, Mr Odongo Paul, Mr Maobe Kelvin and many others not mentioned here, to grow plants and care for our environment in every way I could. Indeed, the ecological, economic, and environmental importance of caring for our common home cannot be overemphasized and this is linked to health itself.
It is well documented that caring for our environment is an important aspect of Health promotion.”

It goes without a doubt, but with much recognition, that Sister Onu has expressed deep tenderness for our green spaces during her years of studying among us.

The write up was compiled by Dr Milton Emorut and Edited by Prof DaltonWamalwa
Published on 30 October 2023.

(1) Rotaru, I.G., 2015. The name „Immanuel” =„God with us”, a proof of God’s immanence, according to the religious vision of the American author Ellen G. White. Dialogo, 2(2), pp.34-44.
(2) Nation, D., 2014. University of Nairobi, 51st Graduation ceremony.
(3) Francis, P., 2019. Laudato Si’: On care for our common home. In Ideals and Ideologies (pp. 503-510). Routledge.
(4) Cornell, S., Berkhout, F., Tuinstra, W., Tàbara, J.D., Jäger, J., Chabay, I., de Wit, B.,Langlais, R., Mills, D., Moll, P. and Otto, I.M., 2013. Opening knowledge systems for better responses to global environmental change. Environmental science & policy, 28, pp.60-70.
(5) Fritsche, I. and Masson, T., 2021. Collective climate action: When do people turn into collective environmental agents? Current Opinion in Psychology, 42, pp.114-119.