The writer, Adam Darragh, is a recent graduate of Stetson University who majored in Religious Studies. He went last summer to Guatemala with four other Stetson University students, to volunteer for a month with the Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR), accompanied by AIR's founder, political science professor Dr. Anne Hallum from Stetson University.
Darragh helped with tree planting, is describing in the article the work he done with his colleauges and AIR's staff, planting trees , building four fuel-efficient stoves for community leaders, planting vegetables, and working alongside students and teachers to build improvements to schools that partner with AIR.
Here's a part where he speaks about his tree planting experience:
"We arrived in June during Guatemala’s rainy season, months after community-operated tree nurseries started by AIR had planted and raised thousands of seedlings of pine, peach, and other kinds of trees. Our average day was spent hopping into pickup trucks, heading to the tree nursery, then riding with the villagers to farmlands, deforested hillsides, or post-landslide slopes. Under the direction of AIR staff and village farmers, we planted as many trees as we could before the monsoon-like rains arrived."
Darragh not only describing the efforts of AIR to teach communities an alternative way to the slash and burn practices, but also the way AIR is working in general, collaborating with families and communities, putting an emphasis on education as well respect to the locals, to ensure the effectiveness of their programs. Darragh explains:
"My experience with AIR has shown me that the world’s reforestation issues can’t be top-down, enforced change, but rather must be the product of individuals, their families, and their communities. While much of AIR’s support comes from gracious donors, the actual work is done by a dedicated group of Guatemalans who partner with farmers, whole villages and schools in education and planting.
It’s a community-based effort, which remains effective because it tempers the goal — reforestation and community development — with respect for Guatemalan cultural heritage and area-specific needs."In all, AIR has planted so far more than three million trees in Guatemala and Nicaragua, educated more than 1,600 families in sustainable, organic farming methods and built more than 700 fuel-efficient ovens have been built (only recently, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues granted AIR US $8,200 to build additional brick stoves in Guatemala).
If you want to learn more about AIR and the great work they do, you're welcome to read this great article at http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/2009/04/21/roots-that-bind. You can also visit their website at www2.stetson.edu/air
Raz @ Eco-Libris
* Photos are courtesy of AIR