Trees for Peace - 2017 Kenya
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” Greek Proverb.
The year 2017 was an election year in Kenya and it brought a set of challenges for the communities we work in in Kwale and Kilifi Counties. There were a lot of political tension and as GWC K works to foster community cohesion through the peace trees, we encouraged the youth, women, children and the elderly from different political and religious affiliations to come together and plant trees in community lands and invited community leaders to use this opportunity to preach peace. This gave the communities a sense of being part of something bigger than themselves that serves all mankind, animals and plants while benefiting the community they live in.
Even though it was the school holidays children actively took part in these community planting events giving them a sense of social responsibility. We wanted them to learn true peace comes in serving others and that compassion is truly planting a tree under whose shade you might never sit. We are grateful to all the communities especially the youth who chose peace and being part of the greater good through tree planting and service to the community and the parents who led by example digging the holes and showing the younger children how it is done. For the children who took part, your future is now and we are glad you are making the world a better place one tree at a time!
Communities planted the peace trees that involved communities from different religious backgrounds: Muslims, Christians and traditional Mijikenda beliefs.
As part of the social responsibility communities gathered together in the larger Kasemeni ward featuring representatives from several villages: Miyani, Mavirivirini, Mazola, Mwache among others. These communities planted over 40,000 trees around the Mwache Dam water catchment area to help mitigate soil erosion and to reclaim the area around the dam.
“Nilizaliwa Miyani, nimeona watu wakiteseka kwa sababu ya ukame na kukosa chakula. Sisi wanawake hutembea hatua kubwa kutafuta maji. Ninafurahi niko kati ya wanajamii wanaolinda bwawa, inamaanisha watoto wangu hawatapata tabu na pia wanawake wenzangu. Ninafurahi ninaujuzi wa kupanda na kulinda miti na kutafuta mbegu kutoka miti mizee. Nafurahia kuwafundisha watoto wa shule kupitia Mradi wa Green World na kuwa mfano wa jinsi ya kulinda Miyani kwa kupanda miti na kupanda mboga, mahindi na miti kama Moringa.”
(I was born in Miyani and I have seen it people suffer due to drought and lack of food. We women have gone long distances to look for water. I am happy to be part of protecting the dam, it means a better life for my children and for my fellow women. I am happy I know how to take care of seedlings to look for seeds from the older trees around us and to show the school children through the Green World Program an example of how to take care of Miyani through planting tree, vegetables, maize and trees like Moringa.)
Nyadzua Mwero- chairlady Miyani FDP
The dam will serve over 20,000 people that live near the river Mwache and the goal is to donate trees that will go along the stretch of the river.
Miyani FDP one of our oldest sites has donated all the trees that have gone to the River Mwache reforestation program and along with the seedlings going to the peace trees which it has donated with schools under the GWC K program. Schools near river Mwache actively involved are GWC schools like: Mwache Primary, Mnyenzeni Primary, Chikomani Primary, Vikolani Primary.
“Peace trees are a unique way to foster community cohesion as they encourage the communities to also take care of the environment and nature has a way of encouraging peace in the hearts of our communities. It also gives them a chance to collectively take care of community lands and see themselves not as youth, men, women or children of different political affiliations and religious backgrounds but as children of Miyani.”
Miyani Village elder:
Trees planted for both the peace trees and the Mwache Dam program in collaboration with the Coast Development Authority are mostly indigenous. Some examples are, local names: Mwarobaini, Mrabai, Mbambakofi, Mng’ong’o, Mkwaju, Mzambarau, Mtsani, Mporojo, Mkulu, Mkuha, Mgama, Moringa, Luceana, Mwanga, Miembe among others.