Planting the Trees of Kenya – The Story of Wangari Maathai

Do you have a garden – a flower garden, a vegetable garden? I do and we are all looking forward to the continuing harvest of vegetables – YUM! Because there is nothing better than something that comes straight from your garden. And…there is something so satisfying about planting, caring for, harvesting, preparing and then putting a meal on the table for your loved ones.

What, you might ask, does this have to do with planting trees in Kenya? Well, I could argue, a lot.

I found a great book by Claire Nivola – Planting the Trees of Kenya that I think illustrates the story of gardens, trees and if you think about it – the plight in which we find ourselves today – buying food at a store in multiple layers of packaging that comes from who knows where. But, I digress…

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Wangari Maathi is the perfect example of getting something right in Kenya – in Africa. With determination, she set out to restore in Kenya “the green” that she had known as a child growing up – when families had grown their own food, trees were nurtured and honored. She left Kenya to attend school in the U.S. and when she returned she found a country where much had changed. The land had been stripped of trees, and the dry red clay was blowing into the streams and rivers making the water undrinkable.

Not content to stand by and see her beloved country ruined, Wangari Maathi knew what she had to do. She began a campaign to re-introduce trees. She began small – with the women in her village. She showed them how they could be part of the solution to the problem.

Wangari Maathi was so successful that in 2004 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Although she died in 2011, her life’s work continues on through her foundation – the Green Belt Movement. We, too, can be part of that movement. You can plant a tree, log on to the website and log your tree as part of the greenbelt movement. That could be a fun and rewarding project to take on with your children/grandchildren this year…don’t you think?

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