Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Carrying on the work of Wangari Maathai...

You may have heard of the passing of Wangari Maathai, an extraordinary woman who was responsible for planting 45 million trees in Kenya by empowering women to enact social and environmental change.

I'll never forget the feeling of joy and pride when I received the news on a field visit to Armenia in October 2004 that Wangari Maathai was being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Green Belt Movement.

Wangari Maathai with the Crown Prince and King and Queen of Norway
after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on December 10, 2004

During my most recent trip last month, I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Maathai, who was an inspiration to us at Armenia Tree Project and to so many others around the world who seek to restore the planet's degraded environment. Obituaries were published by all of the major newspapers and websites, including National Geographic.

ATP founder Carolyn Mugar and executive director Jeff Masarjian wrote an op ed about our connection with “the planting of ideas” in the Boston Globe. The article appeared on the day of Wangari’s visit to Boston and Carolyn and Jeff had a chance to meet her at a gathering hosted by the Urban Forest Coalition.

Carolyn also heard the news of Wangari’s passing while traveling and shared this sentiment: “I was very sorry to hear this news. [Wangari] made an extraordinary contribution and what she showed people about what they can do to change their own lives will live on for ages.”

Dr. Maathai made connections between education, poverty, and deforestation which influenced ATP to establish programs that empowered rural women to start planting trees for future generations. In this spirit, ATP is establishing a tree planting site in the Republic of Armenia to honor the memory and vision of Wangari Maathai. Our goal is to raise $5,000 in support of this memorial effort, so please consider a donation via the ATP website.