As Milton Berle once said ” if opportunity does not knock at your door, build one.” Gloria Lwamba, a young congolese woman knew how to take advantage of this quote by building herself a door toward her destiny. She knew how to take advantage of recycling plastic bottles, and others plastic materials. It has allowed her to protect her environment, to make even furnitures with plastic materials and so much more. We have been able to get an interview with her.
Who is Gloria Lwamba, and how did she start recycling?
At the beginning, i was just a teenager who enjoyed drinking from plastic bottles. There were always pack of plastic bottles at home. One day, a friend of mine who just traveled abroad asked me to take his tools at his parent’s house. When i arrived there, i noticed that they only had two plastic chairs to use. When they wanted to watch TV, their kids had to seat on the floor. I was deeply saddened, and i asked myself how could i solve this problem? How could we offer to the population affordable furnitures without spending a lot of money? One night, while everybody at home was sleeping, i took a pair of scissors and i started cutting some plastic bottles without evening knowing what i was doing. With time, i realize that i can use other material than plastic to make furnitures, but i have always knew deep inside of me that i wanted to protect my environment. It always bother me to see plastic bottles on the streets of Kinshasa, that’s the reason i used to kept the ones i was using at home. I have always knew that when you throw them somewhere, they will en up in a full garbage, or in a river. While i was looking for a way to solve this issue, i found the solution which was recycling.
How is the process of recycling?
Cleaning the plastic bottles is the first step of this process. Our input are plastic materials that we find on the streets of the city, so that we can use them. They must be washed so they can meet the sanitary requirements. It is a very long process. We also have manuals that can help our population to know the different techniques of recycling, and to cultivate the notion of recycling.
Do you work with a team?
Yes, i do work with a team. This kind of work requires a lot of people. Without them, we could not realize such a great work. I have to admit that working with people has a lot of benefits. Complementarity allow us to see a situation from different angles, and to solve problems quickly.
What are the difficulties that you face?
We face difficulties when we gather plastic bottles in the city. In the city of Kinshasa, a market of plastic bottles has recently started. We meet people who rush to sell us the plastic bottles they found on the streets of the city. It is a fight. I am even laughing when i think about it. It is just something that we deal with. To make a sofa from plastic bottles, we need at least 250 plastic bottles. To solve this issue, we work with organizations that protect the environment, and together we organize special days dedicated to the gathering of plastic bottles. It seems to work. We also lack support from our community.
In this month dedicated to women, is there influential women who inspire you?
Mrs. Francine Muyamba ( president of the of the Pan-African Youth Union), she embodies strength, courage determination, perseverance, and humility. She is a great example to me, and to many young african. She is an hard worker, and her work style inspire me. She taught me that discipline characterize someone who want to succeed, preparation represent 50% of success, and that patience and learning are very important on our way to success.
Mrs. Mamie Kapend (stylist from Chicago, award winner of innovation in 2016, mother and a powerful woman,) i learnt from her the art of beauty, and of a well done work. I learnt from her that in every work we do, we need to considerer every detail for a perfect ending. There are a lot of things that you learn from successful women. I am honoring those women in this special month.
What advices would you like to give to the congolese community?
Recycling should matter to each of us, whether you are a doctor, teacher, businessman, computer engineer, farmer, etc… We must protect our environment. This space where we exercise our professions must be protected so that it won’t be polluted. Polluting the Congo river block the growth of the fish population. Plastic bottles in a gutter block water from flowing, thus facilitate erosion. Recycling is something that every citizen should do toward his country. Recycling is showing some love, so let’s do it so our the future generation . Recycle to create more jobs et opportunities for the youth. Recycle to foster a creative spirit in our population. Recycle because we love our country and believe in Africa. Recycle because is a simple and noble act. Recycle to protect our environment.
Top made from plastic bags.
Furnitures made from plastic bottles.
Jewelry made from plastic bottles.