Tree planting 21st March 2024 Rusinga Island

Celebrating the International Day of Forests on Rusinga Island

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Our decision to ensure the UN’s International Day of Forests would always fall within Word Forest’s Trees Are The Key Awareness Week, was a deliberate one. This amazing celebratory day for biodiversity always occurs on the 21st of March and this year, it fell on a Thursday.

On Rusinga Island in Homabay and in Garashi in Coast Province (two of our major planting sites) our Kenyan colleagues led mass participation tree planting and educational days. The following is an awe inspiring report from Solomon Owiti, who was pivotal in executing the event on Rusinga Island, where 40 school children and 48 members of the community came together to plant and learn.

On March 21 2024, the Mothers of the Forest, myself and many members of our community celebrated and honoured the International Day of Forests. It marked a special occasion where we were able to shine a spotlight on the importance of sustaining and protecting woodlands and trees in Kenya. 

Trees are vital to our economies, our livelihoods and the environment not only in Kenya, but across the world. Spending time to give a small praise to trees, is equal to respecting and celebrating all the philosophies of life. Life exists on Earth because of trees! They are among the greatest natural wonders and gifts to humankind and to all living creatures. We all depend on trees! 

It was an incredible opportunity to bring our community and like-minded individuals and organisations together to raise awareness about the importance of forests in our ecosystem. Through discussions and tree planting activities, we emphasised the need to protect and preserve our forests for a sustainable future. A big thank you goes to Word Forest and all of its supporters, and of course to everyone who joined us in this impactful event!

490 trees (200 fruits: oranges, mangoes, avocados, guavas and 290 indigenous trees: whistling pine, Markhamia lutea) were planted at the Milman Latract Academy. This event was an eye opener that enabled the students, teachers and stakeholders to be knowledgeable about the benefits of trees. It also helped them foster their environmental stewardship. 

We know that when students plant saplings they see for themselves the structure of trees. They learn about what they need to survive in their early months and they soon understand the vital ingredients required to help them grow to maturity. We know that if you tell somebody something, they are highly likely to forget it, but if you teach them and give them a practical experience, they are much more likely to remember what you did. And if you actually involve them and let them get their hands dirty, they will learn it properly! That’s how it works with kids! 

We were there to plant saplings not only in the soil but in their hearts too and it worked!

Additionally, another 350 trees were planted in our community zones, taking the total trees planted on this amazing day to 840. 

We are all striving to create a sustainable and regenerative sanctuary here on Rusinga Island, so that all beings that come here may feel more grounded, at ease, and more connected to nature and to our source. I believe sustaining one’s meditative state of being is where it all starts, and thus, it is the foundation for creating sustainable living. 

We have a deep intention and realistic hope to be living fully from our land on Rusinga Island, enjoying the abundance of food and nutrition that is provided to us from our own efforts courtesy of Mother Earth. Sustaining the wildlife and creating a safe haven where all the birds, insects and animals can feel safe too and included in their own ecosystems, is of much importance. We feel honoured to play our part helping to regenerate these abandoned lands so that all can eventually come and flourish in the presence of the divine! 

We are on our way thanks to Word Forest and we give thanks and praise to the most high!

I have to state that getting us to this point has been full of challenges. The drought and exceptionally hot weather is continuing and we’ve been going without rain here for the last couple of months. We are praying the long rains will come soon. We had to use the water we had stored in our 2 large water tanks to rear the saplings. We give thanks for your support to buy this water. It was the critical thing we needed to make our day more impactful and successful. The young trees were highly grateful for being welcomed into their new habitats and to be given enough water and mulch to settle into that new space so they could grow. 

We now have to urgently refill the tanks so that we have enough water to sustain them during their early months. It costs approximately £100 to fill each tank and we will be grateful for anything you can donate to help us do that.

The International Day of Forests 2024 was a day to love, to celebrate trees and life, and to commit to protecting, preserving and expanding forests everywhere, with love to nature.

Trees Are The Key!

I think you’ll agree that Solomon captured the essence of this special day, embedded in our awareness week, rather brilliantly. Together with the Mothers of the Forest, they helped to inspire their own community, sharing indigenous knowledge that will draw down CO2 from the atmosphere bringing benefit to their home country and spreading it right across the world.

With pride and pure delight,  

Solomon Owiti: Kenya
Tracey West: UK

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