Environmental educator and activist Yvonne Maingey’s letter to her young self

Yvonne Maingey is currently undergoing graduate training on environmental education at NYU. Originally from Kenya, she has been an environmental activist since she was 11, when she launched a project and a club to clean up the stream running through her school. She later started a TV program for children that she hosted for several years and continues to be a strong voice for children and youth. She is also an intern with The Earth Child Institute.

Dearest Yvonne,

Beloved thinker, your insatiable passion for more will be your biggest asset. Your constant nagging and questioning everything will be the motivation for your career, your focus and the source of your continuous drive. Remember when you were 12 years old and dad told you to set no limits for yourself? To aim for the best in anything and everything you do – even when you don’t think it’s important? Cling on to that. Life will present you with many challenges, as life should, and many people will tell you that you are not worth much. They will tell you that your ideas, hopes and aspirations will not amount to anything because of your background, because you are a woman, because you are African. They will make you feel inadequate and powerless because of all the things that you do not have, in an attempt to make you forget what you are capable of.

“I have lost some battles because I walked in fear.”

But, beloved thinker, lean on to these words:

You are powerful beyond written description. Powerful because you’re thoughts and your questions can bring about change. However, your power is limited by your ability to listen and as such listen often, even more than you speak.

Your power is limited by your willingness to put the needs of others before yourself, therefore be attentive to the needs of those who do not have the same opportunities that you do. Speak on behalf of them while empowering them to speak for themselves.

Let your thoughts, questions and ideas serve a greater purpose that is as far away as possible from personal gain.

Remember always that life is supposed to be difficult and in each challenge, give thanks that God sees you as worthy of his molding.See every difficulty as an opportunity for you to overcome, to become stronger and to achieve the greater call on your life.

Work hard, beloved, and just like mama says all the time: “don’t waste any opportunity or walk away from any blessing by being simply too scared to ask for it”. I have lost some battles because I walked in fear.

Mama and dad love you so much, listen to them, respect their guidance – you are never too old to stop benefiting from their counsel. Soon you will find that the more you listen, the more people will want to hear what you have to say and when that time comes, speak boldly for your beliefs. They will want to hear what you have to say because you have already proven yourself worth their time so don’t shy away from your beliefs because you’re afraid they won’t like what your saying.

Be respectful, humble and always be filled with love. Even when it seems impossible to love, find something, however small and insignificant it may appear – and shower it with love. The more filled with love you are, the more loved you will be.

I love you.

Yours always,

Yvonne Maingey


Yvonne Maingey has been a spokesperson and representative to various United Nations programs and meetings on children and the environment. She obtained a bachelor of law degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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