Meet Our First Youth Committee

The African Youth Waste Network (AYWN), a programme of Sustainable Seas Trust, established its first Youth Committee in August 2020!

The Eastern Cape committee, consisting of eight young, talented and vibrant women from different fields of study and background, was developed to give the youth of Nelson Mandela Bay the opportunity to work together for a common cause: Towards Zero Plastics to the Seas of Africa.

“I believe that the launch of this committee is an exciting first step in involving the youth of Africa in the fight against plastic pollution,” says AYWN Committee Coordinator, Adelaide Musemesi. “We are looking forward to seeing this committee take action within Eastern Cape communities.”

On the 11th of November 2020, the Eastern Cape Committee held its inaugural meeting in Port Elizabeth. The meeting was held to discuss the committee’s mission, expectations, and how to best reach and involve the Eastern Cape’s youth.

The young members also shared different project ideas they would like to implement as well as the different issues surrounding the youth and plastic pollution.

“Africa has some of the most exquisite, biodiverse and marine rich coastlines in the world and the youth have the power, energy and unique ideas to conserve these resources for a sustainable future,” says Sustainable Seas Trust CEO and Founding Trustee, Dr Tony Ribbink.

Meet our eight Eastern Cape Committee members:

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Laricha Taljaard – Chairperson

“My name is Laricha Taljaard and I am from Uitenhage. I am currently in my fourth year of Law at Nelson Mandela University. My goal is to eventually practice in the Law of the Sea field. Keeping our environment safe is something I feel very passionate about. It breaks my heart whenever I walk along our shore and see the pollution caused by us and how we are destroying our planet. I would therefore like to start making a change and raising awareness about plastic pollution.”

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Shamiso Banda – Deputy Chairperson

“My name is Shamiso Banda and I am currently an MSc Zoology student at Nelson Mandela University. I have been in the natural science field for over 5 years now, and a passion for protecting the natural environment was inspired long before that. I have been part of the Green Campus Initiative since 2015 and have participated in various environmental campaigns and beach clean-ups, including the SST clean-up. I also gave a public talk on Climate Change at Bayworld last year, to increase public awareness of the issues facing the world today and how we can all be a part of the solution. Needless to say, I strongly believe in the power of collective effort, and that is why I want to be a part of the AYWN committee and to be in the frontlines of the battle against plastic pollution.”

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Sixolile Mazwane – Education Coordinator

“I am a second-year PhD student at the Nelson Mandela University, doing biological oceanography. The area that I live in is full of plastic, with people throwing rubbish on the street almost every day. This has become a habit to the people, and they see no shame in what they do. It saddens me; therefore I would like to help in any way I can to make our environment clean and to educate more people on the matter.”

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Saudiqa Benjamin – Events Coordinator

“My name is Saudiqa Benjamin and I am studying a BSc in Environmental Science. Throughout my life I have been drawn to nature and as I went about my years of schooling, I further developed my love and drive for protecting, promoting, and preserving the environment. I have been involved in numerous volunteer projects and initiatives. This is one of the key reasons I started an initiative organisation called Greener Times with my co-partner, aimed at promoting environmental awareness and conservation. I wanted to be part of the AYWN committee as I am an individual prepared to take on the challenge, to further educate myself and others about the importance of protecting our oceans and essentially to be part of a bigger, brighter change.”

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Usanda Samela – Secretary

“I am Usanda Samela, a National Diploma in Marketing Management graduate. Coming from a township, many people are not fully aware about environmental issues and the effects it has on our ecosystem. They also do not know how to recycle their used materials. As a member of the committee, I will bring that aspect into realisation and focus on such communities to equip them with joining the “greening bandwagon” and keep their communities clean.”

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Asithandile Ntsondwa – Committee Member

“I am a third-year student studying BSc (Environmental Sciences) at Nelson Mandela University. I am an environmental activist, a co-founder of Greener Times initiative and a youth policy committee member at the South African Institute of International Affairs. I am always looking for new ways to add my contribution in helping Mother Nature heal.”

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Olayide Fisayo Olajuyin – Committee Member

“I am Olayide Fisayo Olajuyin and I am a PhD candidate in the Development Studies department at the Nelson Mandela University. Considering the aim of the AYWN is to find relevant solutions to Africa’s plastic pollution problems, research and strategic communication of findings are key skills needed for this project. I believe my background skills and years of experience in social science research, communications and facilitation will make me a valuable committee member for the AYWN. I believe the sustainability of any project lies in the hands of young people who can drive the agenda into the future.”







Sara Gopal – Committee Member

“My name is Sara Gopal and I am a grade 11 student at Riebeek College Girls’ High School in Uitenhage. I use my positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others in my community to be more environmentally conscious.”


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