A Kenyan Woman's Legacy: 51 Million Trees Sow Seeds of Change
"When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves".
- David Orr
My favorite time of the year! Spring is in full swing and we're surrounded by growing seeds, sprouting plants and blossoming trees. And they seem to constantly find their way into my work.
Women have always had an intimate connection to nature and so many around the world have made it their life's mission to preserve and care for it.
In the late 1970's, women living in rural areas in Kenya saw the devastating effects of deforestation. Their streams were drying up and their food and fuel sources were dwindling. Wangari Maathai, an environmentalist and professor at the University of Nairobi, who also grew up in rural Kenya, wanted to help. She suggested that they plant trees to secure food, water, fuel and medicine and improve their livelihoods.
Under Maathai's leadership, their tree-planting grew and evolved into the Greenbelt Movement, dedicated to better environmental management, community empowerment, and livelihood improvement. Since then, more than 51 million trees have been planted. Maathai was the first environmentalist and first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace".
To learn more about Wangari Maathai and her work, check out this wonderful documentary, TAKING ROOT.