By Ramatamo wa matamong
Mxo Manyoni is hoping COP17 will change his life. Unemployed and having finished school with only Grade 10, the 23-year-old vendor from the township of Ndwendwe outside Durban has a lot to thank the climate change meeting for.
Each morning Manyoni arrives at the precinct where discussions are being held to sell all sorts of refreshments. These range from flavoured chips, chocolates, cool drinks and sweets. He pushes them in his trolley along the pathways - crisscrossing delegates as they move in and out of their meetings.
Manyoni says since the start of discussions on November 27, business has been good. He uses this money to take care of his parents and his girlfriend. “Another thing, with this money I would like to obtain a driver’s licence and get a job. I can’t go back to school, I want to work,” said Manyoni.
He said he did not have a permanent job but was only surviving on “piece” jobs before COP 17.
In addition to the vendors, eThekwini Municipality has also recruited more than 300 volunteers who have been deployed in various site of operation for this two-week long event on climate change. The volunteers go through an induction process and learn about customer care, hospitality, accreditation, information desk work, logistics, protocol and media.
Before COP 17, many of them did not know anything about the effects of climate change and global warming and this formed part of the training.
Thandeka Ngiba, a young mother of a four-year-old girl, is volunteering at the International Conference Centre (ICC). She hopes to use the money earned as a volunteer, to study a hospitality course and open her own business: “I like working with people, planning weddings or doing catering. These are my favourites.”