APW Environmental Education Program Officer Revocatus Magayane: A Mentor and Advocate for Tomorrow’s Leaders

November 28, 2017

By African People & Wildlife

Revocatus Magayane greets youth during an APW environmental education program
Revocatus Magayane greets Wildlife Club members in the village of Loibor Soit. (Photo: African People & Wildlife/Felipe Rodriguez)

Revocatus Magayane serves as the Environmental Education Program Officer at African People & Wildlife (APW). Since 2013, he has implemented education programs for more than 7,000 youth across northern Tanzania. Revocatus mentors and teaches young people through after-school Wildlife Clubs, environmental summer camps, and the Noloholo Environmental Scholarship program. He also co-teaches adult seminars on sustainable natural resource management. In 2015, Revocatus was named a Disney Conservation Hero.
 
APW Viewpoints interviews Revocatus Magayane:
 
Who are you? What path led you to where you are today?
I was born on the island of Ukerewe in Lake Victoria. When I was a boy in primary school, I had the opportunity to meet missionaries from many different countries. I started going with them to pastoral areas to follow the work they were doing with rural people. At this young age, I decided I wanted to become a missionary.
 
After high school, I began to study for the priesthood in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. As part of my studies, I was assigned to a center for street youth. I met many kids who were begging and stealing to survive, and I worked with them to come to the center and turn their lives around. The goal was to reunite as many of them as possible with their families. I was very happy doing that work.
 
After that, I continued my education at Uganda Martyrs University. Through my studies there, I helped a variety of people. I worked in pastoral areas, in a prison, in the slums, and at another youth center. I really loved being with the people and supporting their lives.

Studying a tortoise during an APW environmental education program
Revocatus Magayane studies a tortoise with one of APW's Noloholo Environmental Scholars. (Photo: African People & Wildlife/Felipe Rodriguez)

You never became a priest. Was there one pivotal moment that caused you to walk away from that path?
One day, six years into my studies, one of the priests who was teaching a class said to us, “You might feel that you want to do work that supports people. But being a missionary is not the same as working for a nonprofit. You must think deeply about your vocation and decide if you’d be happier as an NGO practitioner than you would as a priest.”
 
His words really struck me. At that moment, I realized I needed to rethink becoming a priest because the most important thing to me was helping people. I expressed my doubts to a mentor, who asked me to spend one year out of the missionary to decide where I would be happiest. During that year, I concluded that I would be able to impact even more people’s lives on the outside than I would as a missionary. Now, through my position at APW, I work with so many people—the youth, the elders, and the community at large—and I’m very happy.
 
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work with youth?
One of the biggest challenges is the fact that the girls don’t perform as well as the boys in school. It’s also harder for them to win scholarships. I can see when I’m teaching the girls that they are very smart. But one of the problems is that, based on local traditions, they have to dedicate a lot more time to family activities than boys do. I try to offer as much encouragement and support to the girls as I can. Right now, we have eight girls who are Noloholo Environmental Scholars, and I’m very proud of them.
 
Another challenge of doing this work is that many funders of youth education programs want to see the results immediately. But when working with youth, visible changes can take time. And some people get tired of waiting.

A Tanzanian girl reads a workbook during an APW environmental summer camp.
A young girl reads a workbook while attending an APW environmental summer camp. (Photo: African People & Wildlife/Cameron Zegers)

How do you measure the success of your work?
We look at both short-term and long-term impacts. In the short term, we measure the number of youth who have completed or currently participate in our programs, as well as the need and requests for our programs in communities we haven’t reached yet. We also give an evaluation to the kids who complete activities like our environmental education summer camps to see what they’ve learned. The results tell us that campers have gained a greater understanding of environmental issues and want to make a difference in their communities.
 
Looking at the bigger picture, we take a long-term, day by day approach. In our partner communities, the awareness of conservation issues has increased dramatically over time. The environmental knowledge in these places is much greater than in the areas we haven’t reached yet. I think this difference is partly because the youth are spreading the knowledge they’re getting to their friends and families.

All life depends on the young. In nature, if you have young trees, then you can see that life is promising. It is the same with our youth. For every community that values and respects their younger generation, there is great hope.

What steps do you take to make sure children maintain their excitement about the environment after they’ve completed a summer camp or a club activity?
We do this by maintaining very strong relationships with our program beneficiaries and others in their communities. Members of our team, as well as a group of youth environmental mentors, visit the schools we work with every week. We also follow up with camp participants to see what they’re sharing with their peers and families. Each camper receives a nicely bound workbook that they can take home with them for this purpose. Most of these kids don’t have access to many books, so this is a special item for them to have and to share.
 
Another way we keep young people engaged is through our celebrations for World Lion Day, Earth Day, and World Environment Day. The youth show their love for wildlife and nature by participating in community cleanups, planting trees, singing songs, making art, playing games, and putting on skits for their families and local leaders.

Tanzanian youth singing
Students sing a song about lions during a community-wide World Lion Day celebration. (Photo: African People & Wildlife/Emily Ford)

What is your message to the next generation of young people in Tanzania?
Our day to day lives are intertwined with the environment, so the youth we work with have a big responsibility to fulfill. They come to our programs with traditional knowledge about the environment that has been passed down through their families. We want them to keep that knowledge alive while also increasing their exposure to new ideas about conservation. As the next generation combines traditional and modern know-how, they can chart a new course and make a positive impact on their environment.
 
What are your hopes for the future?
My hope is that people will continue to invest in our children because they are tomorrow’s leaders. I think we’ll see the biggest impact of our work with youth in a few years when the boys and girls who have passed through our programs come of age and become decision-makers in their communities. Once that happens, I think the local leadership will be in a great position to deal with the environmental challenges we face.
 
All life depends on the young. In nature, if you have young trees, then you can see that life is promising. It is the same with our youth. For every community that values and respects their younger generation, there is great hope.

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P.O. Box 11306

Arusha, Tanzania

+255 767 172 086

P.O. Box 624

Bernardsville, NJ 07924

+1 (908) 642-1540

CONNECT WITH US
STAY UP TO DATE
CONNECT WITH US
STAY UP TO DATE
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