Prof. Dr. Dr. h.h.c Otto Kinne, the Founder was a great man by all standards. I first met him in 2000 in his magnificent home in a small village close to Hamburg (Germany) city called Oldendorf . He had invited me after a short interaction. In the meeting was the Vice President and an academician on his own right – Prof. Dr. Gennedy Polykapov of Ukraine. That was just some years after Ukraine had separated from the former USSR.In the discussions and my presentation, the two great men accepted that I can found a Kenyan Chapter of the larger EEIU. Thus in 2001, I founded the Sare Chapter – which was housed in my small detached house at a village town called Awendo in present Migori County. Then, I had bought a small plot in Awendo, put up a small one bedroom semi permanent house which served both as my place of residence and as an office.
A few years later and after the completion of my M.Sc. studies in Germany – I roped in the support of Prof. Kinne to assist lobby a German Foundation to give funds for our very first project. The negotiation to get funds from the German Foundation was difficult, laborious and went back and forth. Many times, I did not see any hope of getting any funds from them. In that desperation, I thought of Prof. Kinne and sort his support to get funds from the Foundation. In his wisdom, he arranged for a meeting at his home and invited both myself and officials of the Foundation – at the end of a sumptuous meal he uttered ‘ Give Okeyo the Funds and hold me responsible’. And, with that the deal was done and I returned home with adequate funds to start not only the agreed project but also enacted our first office in Mombasa at Motor Mart Building along Moi Avenue. Since, Eco Ethics International – Kenya Chapter was born and you can continue the story from here…..I always strongly believe that one has to understand the background of an institution he/she is affiliated. In this way, you can walk literally into the mission, vision and goals of that institution. Indeed, you get a good perspective of the challenges faced by that institution and opportunities open to it.
The story of Eco Ethics – Kenya, is a long one. It has been there for the last fifteen years – starting from 2001when it was informally launched to 2002 when it was officially registered. It is a story of struggle and great achievements. One that inspires hope but equally demands patience, sacrifice, hard work and more – creativity. Like any other non-profit, it survives on new ideas. Those ideas must be realizable within the available resources of time, money and human power available to it. Besides, those ideas need be projected in a manner that does not only inspire donors or would be funding agencies but also in a way that mirrors the intended objectives of the communities whose livelihoods are intended to be uplifted. This is many times a huge challenge particularly to young souls that are usually recruited fresh from colleges and Universities. While they find this demanding, it gives them a solid pedestal for moving forward. This institution so far boasts of having been a bridge for well over 50 young Kenyans, who at any given time have been associated with it and who have either moved on to other more lucrative fields/institutions or those who are still serving in it.
Going forward, Eco Ethics – Kenya, will continue in this indomitable spirit – and that is a gift it churns out to anyone who has ever cared to interact or be associated with it. Take it with you wherever you may go, whatever the challenge you may face and with pride your destiny will beckon and happiness will be yours after sometime.
By Eco- Ethics Director
Dr Benards Okeyo
a link to his tribute by Marine Ecology Progress Series click here