Ellyanne Wanjiku Chlystun “My job is to spread awareness, but also to take action"
Ellyanne has always focused on climate activism, but more recently she became the youngest and newest Zero Malaria ambassador after realising the impact malaria was having on children – and the ways climate change was impacting the fight to end the disease.
“I started my journey as an activist when I was 4 years old – in kindergarten!”
Ellyanne is only 13 years old, but she’s been an environmental activist for a long time – since she was just four, when the class did a project about real heroes. Ellyanne found Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai especially inspiring as a changemaker and a female role model, and decided to follow in her footsteps. She didn’t just want to look up to her heroes – she wanted to be one herself!
"Children are the future... A child dies every minute from malaria, it really makes me sad. "
Ellyanne couldn’t understand why more wasn’t being done about malaria, considering how much had been achieved for other diseases. She had seen the impact of malaria on the move due to climate in her home country of Kenya – where regions who previously never saw cases of the disease are finding themselves at risk.
“Climate change is important to tackle because it intersects with almost every topic and every situation we go through in the world. Intersects with health. With malaria, because the weather patterns are changing, that’s part of climate – this is causing mosquitoes to move around and be less predictable. People are not able to get mosquito nets, they’re not able to get medication.”
Ellyanne believes speaking up is key to changing this story. “Me being a Zero Malaria ambassador, my job is to spread awareness, but also to take action,” she says, “in Kenya, what I’ve seen is a lot of kids suffering.”
Ellyanne is passionate about the importance of listening to children’s voices at this critical point in the fight against malaria.
"It’s very simple – we’re the future. I mean, come on guys... For me it’s really simple to understand that children’s voices should be heard as much as possible – today, and tomorrow, and the other days to come – because we’re talking about our future"
Ellyanne’s message to world leaders is to sit up and pay attention: “I just think they need to focus on children right now – because children are affected by all the issues that are happening. World leaders, please pay attention to what the children in your countries are saying. If I was a world leader, I would start with the children.”