Why plant trees in Africa?
There is obviously a tangible and important “green” element in this project. Trees will cool down soil for growing crops, soak up carbon, provide new income sources, benefitting residents in situations of extreme poverty, and, even if in tiny increments, effect positive climate change. The physical impact will be a legacy gift for generations to come. That’s probably enough reason for any organization to take on this project.
Yet there are other key considerations that make this a strategic initiative:
1. Forging a long-term partnership with Africa. “It’s time for Africa”… Here is a vast frontier and opportunity for a new generation of young leaders to dream and physically participate in material, spiritual and social transformation of entire villages and regions.
2. Giving back what has been stolen from Africa. Throughout the last three centuries, certain nations, particularly in Europe, but also US and Asia, have systematically raped and pillaged Africa of its abundant natural resources, enslaving its nations and peoples into forced servitude and debt. Planting trees is one way for us to return in the “opposite spirit”, literally planting back into African soil riches unjustly stolen by previous generations.
3. No specialization required Planting trees is a simple act in which anyone, regardless of age or experience, can participate, opening up opportunities for entire families to serve together.
4. Working “shoulder to shoulder” with African young people and families. We will not generally be experts arriving with Western “rich country” mentality or means to solve systemic problems. Rather, people will come from many nations with sleeves rolled up and ready to “get their hands dirty”, serving alongside their African brothers and sisters, building a synergy vital for local ownership of the project.
5. Building relationships at “grass roots” level. As participants are struck by the people and needs of this amazing continent, many will clarify long-term callings to receive training, pioneer initiatives, and develop strategies to return and invest their lives in an African region. Friendships will be formed among young people. Staying in touch via Facebook and emerging communication technologies, these acquaintances may also result in key African young people receiving training abroad, then to return with greater capacity to serve their regions.
6. Opening doors in difficult nations. Tree planting projects conducted by affiliated organizations have had verifiable and encouraging results in transforming hostile government and tribal leader attitudes into genuine appreciation and partnership. Adding the element of young people, and multiplying by perhaps thousands of participants, may have extraordinary impact in many situations.