My name is Samuel Chijioke Okorie. I’m fourth in a family of seven (four boys and three girls, but we lost one of the girls.) I am a Nigerian from Imo State and a graduate from the University of Calabar in 2019, where I studied Sociology and Anthropology. I am a climate activist, environmentalist, and social justice advocate for women and children.
I gravitated towards climate activism and environmentalism because of the role it played in my life and family during my childhood. We lived in a swampy area that often flooded our homes sometimes for a week or more. The constant flooding was very traumatizing for us due to a lack of drainage channels, which were blocked with waste and plastic, making it very difficult for water to pass. Imagine a place where you can see and catch fish whenever it rains. As kids, we enjoyed it, but we only fished when there was little or nothing to eat. The water was often stagnant, breeding mosquitoes and other air and water-borne illnesses like malaria, fever, skin reactions, and other diseases. I can remember how often we fell sick and, at times, were hospitalized. I often got depressed, and I recall the day I tried to take my own life. It was a horrible, daily torment and pain, which left me with some scars and a story to tell.
My mum did the best she could to make sure we were safe and well. I remember when my mom sent us to her friend’s house to be safe until the flood at home dried up from above our waist level. At times, we also went to church to spend the night there. We often misplaced some of our belongings as a result.
Our house flooded to the point that at night we used blocks of bricks to raise it above the water levels so we could rest our heads. As a kid, I was interested in finding a lasting solution to the flooding, but my primary concern at that time was where to rest my head at night and the right posture to sleep in order not to fall into the water. Knowing that it would flood before the rain started, we made sure to place our belongings at the top of the house, which was half-built with bricks and half-built with wood. At dawn, we would awake to bail the water.
Six years later, we left that place. I had learned about the negative impact of human activity on the environment in a hard way. Still, I wanted to prevent it from happening to anybody else. My interest is in the harm that blocked drainage water can do to us if we don’t act fast, and the effects of stagnant water on health, its impact on greenhouse gases, and air pollution.
You may check out more of my work in regards to climate, environmental action, and social justice advocacy for women and children on youthfortodayinitiative.wordpress.com.
Thanks for your interest in my story.
Samuel. C Okorie