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Karen Wanjiru
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Image Courtesy of Ann Njeri

CAREER

Meet The Youngest Delegate At COP 27

She is wise beyond her years

BY Agnes Amondi

Jan 12, 2023, 08:12 AM

Photo of

Karen Wanjiru

Photo by

Image Courtesy of Ann Njeri
What were you doing at the age of 10? Were you thinking about issues of global importance? Did you even have a grasp of any of the things happening around you?

Meet Karen Wanjiru Kimani, a 10-year-old environmentalist who is leading the efforts to better our environment through a couple of initiatives. To that effect, she has represented the country in a couple of events.

In 2019, she was invited to Spain for the Prince and Princess World Competition where she presented a monologue on the need to recycle plastics. Additionally, she hit the runway in a dress made out of plastic bottles to accompany her message and for that, she won the silver award. 

A Grade 4 student at Harvest View Academy, Karen was one of the numerous kids who attended the COP 27 Summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt last year. In fact, she was the youngest delegate at the event.
Karen Wanjiru, her mother Ann Njeri and President William Ruto at COP 27 | Image Courtesy of Ann Njeri
She had a very simple request for the world leaders. “I wanted to tell the world leaders what I do and the world leaders to tell me what they do.” She did get the chance to put that question to President William Ruto and even put him to task about the dying elephants.  

What was her experience at the event like? “I learnt that COP 27 is a meeting of all the world leaders where they talk about climate change. World leaders are working hard to stop issues like global warming and one way to do this is to plant trees as I do.” 

Where Did This Start?

Karen Wanjiru planting seedlings | Image Courtesy of Ann Njeri
The 10-year-old started her conservation work when she was four years old and through modelling, made her way into her current pursuit and has never looked back since. The late Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai is her inspiration.

I was inspired by the late Wangari Maathai. Until today, people remember her because of what she did for the environment and I also want you to remember me.” 

And planting trees is what Karen does. She has a tree nursery with more than 30,000 tree seedlings and has planted more than 10,000 tree seedlings. Her efforts saw her win the Green Kids Awards 2022. 

Mother’s Support 

No one can deny her impressive talents and we all celebrate her efforts. That said, her mother’s contribution cannot go unnoticed. Ann Njeri has walked the journey with her daughter and continues to regardless of the demands that come with it.

Her face lights up when she talks about Karen and reflects on the journey.
 
“I am proud of her. She started when she was four years old as a model in 2018 when we were burning the plastic bag. She made a dress outfit from the career bags and  her project topped the class so at her age, she has done a lot and worked with several organisations to plant trees across seven counties.” 

Additionally, she talked about how Karen balances her school and environmental demands.

Many people have challenges with the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) but it is the way to go. It is not just about academics. It helps in the nurturing of talents. Talent pays and we have to pay attention to that. That said, Karen has not lost anything. When we were at COP 27, she had private classes.”

But, it hasn’t been easy for her. Ann said that she has sacrificed a lot but takes pride in all that as she wants her to live to her full potential

Here are their final words.

Karen: “Everyone must plant trees. I have planted 10,000 so you should plant more than me. If you want to do that, you have to put your mind to it. That’s what I did when I came across a few words about the subject and then I chose it. Plant more trees and you will find yourself where I am. Have courage. Don’t be shy.”

Ann Njeri: “My advice to fellow parents is, if you notice your child has a talent, nurture it and support them. You have to sacrifice for them to do what they want to. Don’t look at what you are not getting out of it. Just support them.”