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In Cotonou, young Catholics and Protestants committed to the health of the city

Ecofooting: In Cotonou (Benin), young Catholics and Protestants collected plastic waste.

On the initiative of the Youth Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Cotonou and Fondacio Benin, a hundred young people divided into three zones of the economic capital of Benin, carried out, on April 17, an ecological jogging called “Ecofooting, let’s protect our commune house”.
Saturday, April 17, 6:50 a.m. About twenty young Catholics are on foot in the vestibule of the Sainte Famille parish of Djidjè, in the heart of Cotonou. While others, including young Protestants, join them, they put on their green vests and gloves distributed to them by Jérôme Tozé, coordinator in Africa of Fondacio, a movement under pontifical right.

About twenty minutes later, after the prayer led by Father Francis Adimou, diocesan chaplain for young people, the caravan sets 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. On their way, these young people pick up all the plastic bags lying around, the operation having as its leitmotif, “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 just like 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, secretary general of the youth coordination of the Holy Family parish of Djidjè, member of the organizing team, says he is very satisfied: “This activity is very interesting. The proof is that many young people, who are difficult to mobilize in ordinary times, have shown, through their active presence, their interest in the activity”.It denotes, ” 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, that would be very good”.

The challenge is to pick up everything that is plastic bag thrown by our fellow citizens in nature ,” says Jérôme Tozé. But, according to the coordinator of Fondacio in Africa, the project wants to go further. “Beyond collecting 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 get people to change behavior”.
And to launch: “ Green ecology yes, but ecology of the heart too! We must put the Laudato si in the hearts of our brothers and sisters. It is urgent to work on it now!”

In Benin, in fact, 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 from the West African sub-region are participating: Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso.
“We work 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, the best of which 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 cities: Cotonou, Lomé and Ouagadougou.

Just Hlannon (in Cotonou)

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