Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Grace Sichinga
Trees are important. I’m sure most of us have heard this many times. But how many of us take this literally and appreciate the trees around us? A tree is a gift that keeps on giving. Trees help to purify the air around us, prevent soil erosion, conserve water, help with climate control, and provide food, and shelter as well as material for building. The many uses of trees make them so versatile and vital for our environment. The fact that we are always cutting down trees is evidence of how much we use and need them. However, we forget the other very important uses of trees that require us to keep them alive or plant more. It is our responsibility to plant trees and take care of them.
When you plant a tree, you plant a future. Trees help fight the effects of global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide and storing carbon and providing oxygen. Trees help prevent flooding especially when planted around river banks. Trees are home to many of our wildlife, including birds and insects, they also provide food for wildlife.
My days in my community have shown me how trees bring people together. They act as beacons in our community. They are also a meeting place for many of us. They become part of the community.
This is why I was excited to learn about the trees my community and I were gifted, courtesy of the Rotary Club in collaboration with CorpsAfrica/Malawi. We were given 20 Bamboo trees and 80 fruit trees to plant in our community. Apart from the benefits mentioned above, Bamboo trees grow rapidly and rarely need replanting, they also do not require pesticides or chemical fertilizers. We planted some trees in our community and the rest at a primary school in the community.
Individuals in the community were able to take ownership and responsibility of the trees we were planting, as I explained the benefits of the trees. Most were excited to plant in their farmlands to help with soil erosion as well as floods. They were also excited that they would be able to access nutritious fruits, namely grafted mangoes, grafted sweet oranges, pawpaw, custard apples, and avocado pears, especially for the children in the community. This encouraged them to plant more trees whenever they could.
The trees that were planted at the primary school gave students a chance to also take ownership and be responsible for the trees. The students also learnt more about how trees work as well as the practices of grafted trees, and how to prepare to plant a tree.
This tree planting initiative not only brought my community together, but it also reminded us of the importance of planting trees and how it is our responsibility for a better tomorrow. So, let’s remember that – he who plants a tree, plants a hope – Lucy Larcom.