At this time of year in the UK, when spring is doing its thing, there’s always a sense of hope. Daylight hours lengthen, primroses and daffodils burst out all over and green buds and shoots unfurl left, right and centre. Bumblebees are out looking for early forage (a big thumbs up for hellebores, comfrey and flowering currant) and the birds are really loud.
It seems particularly poignant. Here, a year ago, we were following our European neighbours into lockdown and now there is hope worldwide for ‘normal’ life beyond the pandemic, although that’s a way off yet. The hope is tempered by sadness – for the loss of so many lives in the last twelve months and for what we, individually and collectively, have lost.
But hope is not lost. Hope is firmly rooted and is growing ever stronger. We thought it might be good to take a moment and reflect on the positive things that have happened this year, because the tenacity, resilience, generosity and sheer goodness of people has not just kept our organisation afloat but has helped us continue to grow.
Our volunteer base has increased hugely
Within a month of the first lockdown we had gone from a team of 9 to a team of 48, as kind hearted, generous souls reached out to offer some of the new spare time they had. Phenomenal designers, brilliant writers, marketing geniuses, social media wizards, communications experts and so many other angels flew in through our virtual doors and enabled us to do things that previously we had only been able to dream about.
Celebrities gave us their tee-shirt designs
Not only were we able to launch a range of ethical clothing specially designed for us by our amazing volunteers, we were given designs from a whole host of generous celebrities, all based around our slogan #TreesAreTheKey, to grace our wonderful Celebri-tees.
We were able to assist with some special projects within the Covid guidelines in Kenya
Funding was provided for the construction of a new dwelling for a much loved senior in the community, whose house had fallen into terrible disrepair through no fault of her own (look out for an update soon). A special tree planting project was organised which provided several days employment for 60 people. This was to prevent the saplings that were at the nursery in Boré from going to waste; they were outgrowing their pots and at risk of dying because all normal activity had had to stop.
We have continued to collaborate with corporate partners old and new
It has been wonderful to forge and strengthen connections with ethical, forward thinking companies, organisations and individuals and we are immensely grateful for their support.
We have continued to raise funds and awareness online
Like so many other organisations, all the in person fundraising and educational events we had organised had to be cancelled. However, we have managed to hold several virtual events, not least our first ever Trees Are The Key Awareness Week. With the help of our wonderful volunteers (THANK YOU!) and our extraordinary band of supporters (THANK YOU!) we have been able to continue to work.
Which leads us to the most important positive of all!
We could support our colleagues in Kenya
When Kenya went into lockdown, tree planting as well as everything else was curtailed, as you can imagine, but we were able to continue to send money out for food aid to help those in the communities that had lost their livelihoods. Trees will be planted as lockdown eases but here’s what Eve Jefa, the facilitator of the Mothers Of The Forest women’s empowerment group had to say:
“I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the MOTF, the community and myself to thank you for the support that you have given us during the pandemic. It has been a trying time indeed. Thank you for making this period hurt a little less.
Allow me to explain in detail how the food aid has been of help.
The food aid has helped us health wise We never lacked something to eat. As the pandemic rose, a meal a day became a luxury but thanks to you guys, we could afford that.
The food aid has helped us mentally. When one cannot provide even one meal for the family, there are high chances the person might start feeling useless or worse. The food aid has helped keep a lot of people sane.
The food aid has helped us emotionally. During this period of the pandemic, there have been mixed emotions… all that on top of an empty stomach, the result is chaos. The food aid has helped curb a lot of chaos.
The food aid has helped us physically.
Doing the smallest of tasks needs a full stomach. Imagine what we women do every day. Fetching water and firewood and all the other household chores. We would not be able to do that on an empty stomach.
So, dear Word Forest, I feel even the word THANK YOU does not begin to describe the gratitude I feel and I’m so very sure that the community shares my sentiment.”
“Dear Word Forest”… that’s you lovely lot, each and every one of you reading this, sharing our information, donating money and time, caring about what happens, making a difference. We’ve been overwhelmed by your kindness. We’d be lost without you.
Asante sana – thank you so much.