Roxanne Lourens

Roxanne Lourens always wanted to be a teacher. Little did she imagine that one day she would be involved not only in educating pupils but also teachers in sustainable living and the environment. Noticing a lack of leadership in this field, and frustrated by the absence of environmental education and action in schools, she and two partners started environmental non-governmental organisation Green Beings in 2010. Green Beings motto is “Ethoma ka wena“, which means “it begins with you”, which is something that 26-year-old Lourens and the organisation facilitates by teaching young people and schools to acknowledge the need for more sustainable practices. One of her biggest challenges is getting a society driven by instant gratification to see the need to take action today to create a better tomorrow. By planting trees and starting recycling campaigns Green Beings aims to sow the seeds of knowledge and skills in teachers, school staff and children, as well as in the government’s community works programme, with the goal being to see whole communities take responsible action. “I believe in life-long learning and encouraging people to keep learning about different things and opening up to different ways of thinking,” she says. Building on the success of its pilot project  in a Cosmo City school, Green Beings now runs projects in all seven schools in the area, touching the lives of over 10 000 pupils and their immediate families. Collaboration is key, especially when it breaks down socioeconomic divisions. Green Beings arranged for Fourways pupils to plant indigenous trees at their own school before busing them off to assist Cosmo City pupils. For Lourens, the ultimate goal is to create a replicable model that can be rolled out to schools across all provinces and social boundaries. Lourens lives by her beliefs. Her innovative thinking and hands-on approach are what keep her moving forward on her sometimes crazy but essential mission of change. — Caroline Cowan