Global Resource Alliance was recently honored to plant the 5 millionth tree sponsored by the Belgium NGO, WeForest, in Kinesi Village, Tanzania. WeForest sponsors reforestation projects around the globe, and has worked with GRA over the past three years to plant 250,000 trees in Rorya District, Tanzania.
On very short notice our Kinesi projects coordinator, Owino, organized a big event and invited the Commissioner of Rorya District to plant the landmark 5 millionth tree.
The event was scheduled to begin at 11am , but African politicians are famous for late arrivals. We were assured that the District Commissioner was known for his promptness, so we arrived at 10:45. There were already over 100 people waiting patiently in their seats under a makeshift shade tarp.
By 11:30, no officials had arrived and the local mechanics were still working on the electric generator 15 minutes away in the village so that the sound system (yet to be delivered) could be powered up. At noon the sound system and generator arrived and soon thereafter the music boomed and people danced — just in time for a lively reception for the Commissioner and his retinue who arrived at 12:15.
After a tour of the plot, the planting of the 5 millionth tree and many speeches, we retired to our lakeside plot for lunch. The food was excellent and abundant — for over 200 people, cooked on our mud and banana stalk “rocket” stoves.
Everything went off without a hitch and the commissioner was clearly impressed. He instructed his aide to schedule a visit to the plot by the district’s agricultural extension officers for a workshop on permaculture.
The East African TV station ITV showed up for the event and we watched ourselves the next day on the local news.
WeForest has pledged to sponsor up to 100,000 more trees for 2014 — at 35 cents per tree — through carbon offset programs and other creative fundraising. We’re also making plans with the District Commissioner and WeForest for reforesting the mountainside near the district offices with about 250,000 trees.