Ecofooting: Committed to clean up the city

Ecofooting : In Cotonou (Benin), young Catholics and Protestants were collecting plastic waste, 

On the initiative of the youth chaplaincy of the diocese of Cotonou and Fondacio Benin, a hundred young people in three areas of the economic capital of Benin, carried out, on April 17, an ecological jogging called "Ecofooting, let's protect our common home".
Saturday, April 17, 6:50 am. About twenty young Catholics are on their feet in the vestibule of the Sainte Famille de Djidjè parish, in the heart of Cotonou. While others, including young Protestants, join them, they put on their green vests and gloves that Jérôme Tozé, the African coordinator of Fondacio, a movement of pontifical right, hands out.

Twenty minutes later, after the prayer led by Father Francis Adimou, diocesan youth chaplain, the caravan set off in the direction of the parish of Sainte Cécile, about three kilometers away, divided into small groups because of the health situation and escorted by police officers. On their way, these young people collect all the plastic bags that are lying around, the operation having for leitmotiv, "Zero plastic bags in nature".
"The main objective of ecofooting," explains Father Adimou, "is to associate sport in its playful dimension with an eco-citizen gesture, the collection of plastic bags in the city of Cotonou." In Akpakpa as well as in Zogbo, two other popular districts of the city, the same activity takes place at the same time.


From green ecology to ecology of the heart
Carmel Allagbé, general secretary of the youth coordination of the Holy Family parish of Djidjè, member of the organizing team, is very satisfied: "Ecofooting is a very interesting activity. The proof is that many young people, difficult to mobilize in ordinary times, have shown, by their active presence, their interest in the activity". "This shows," he adds, "an awareness of the ecological emergency mentioned by Pope Francis and to which this operation responds. If this can be repeated from time to time, it would be very good".

"The challenge is to collect all the plastic bags thrown away by our fellow citizens in nature," says Jérôme Tozé. But, according to the coordinator of Fondacio in Africa, the project wants to go beyond that. "Beyond the collection of plastic bags," he explains, "we also aim to raise awareness of an ecology of the heart in line with Laudato si, in order to find mechanisms to bring people to change their behavior."
And to add: "Green ecology yes, but ecology of the heart too! We must put Laudato si in the hearts of our brothers and sisters. It is urgent to work on it now! "

In Benin, indeed, a law dating from 2017 prohibits the production, export, marketing, possession, distribution and use of non-biodegradable plastic bags. But it is clear that it is not yet applied by all.



The Agora Ecologica project
"Agora Ecologica is a project initiated by Fondacio in partnership with the diocesan youth chaplaincy of Cotonou" explains Jérôme Tozé. Three countries in the West African sub-region are participating: Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso.
"We are working in various sectors including the environment. This will lead to online training with experts who have already worked on the encyclical Laudato Si and the projects that will emerge at the end of the process will be submitted to a competition where the best will be awarded," he adds.
The current incubation phase is coordinated by the Fondacio Institute based in Lomé, Togo, and has obtained the support of the bishops of the three priority target cities: Cotonou, Lomé and Ouagadougou.

Juste Hlannon (in Cotonou)