Oct 20, 2021 Last Updated 1:03 PM, Oct 19, 2021

Kenya - An experience with the green belt movement in Mbaga parish

Categoria: I Nostri Dicono
Visite: 1794 volte

{mosimage} This is a process which took us the whole day, from 9.00 in the morning till 5.30 in the afternoon. We started the long day with the negotiation of the price with the lorry owner, for the collection and transportation of the seedlings from the sites to Mbaga mission. Then the slow and patient process of selecting the suitable seedlings, counting them and recording them in the proper forms and signing by the relevant office bearers of the respective groups, collecting seedlings, and delicately loading them onto the lorry, some from the seed beds, some from market places or just by the road side according to the arrangements of the coordinators. At the beginning we visited humble sites with hardly any viable seedlings, showing the struggle of the people to meet the challenges of drought and coordination. Towards the end of our collection process we came across seasoned growers with thousand of vibrant seedlings of rich varieties. Such experiences gave us a lot of hope in the dream of turning our arid areas of western Kenya into green belt zones!

We were graced with the presence and company of two representatives of the Green Belt Movement, one called Beatrice Wafumbwa originally from Bungoma, a mother of a family living in Nairobi and a committed environmentalist, assisting in the education of other Kenyans on environmental issues. The other was Joseph Kinara, originally from Kisii, a father of a family and a dedicated environmentalist. The two immediately impress whoever comes into contact with them as two who are not only interested in planting trees but rather, people who have worked hard on their own lives at spiritual level to attain that sacred respect and care to all they meet. They listen a lot and talk very little despite the wealth of knowledge they have about life and their profession. They have their way with the simplest people and language is never a barrier for them. With very simple words and means they are able to reach the minds and hearts of many. They left an impressive impact on our people.

There is a lot to know about the ideals and aims of the Green Belt Movement. Perhaps one needs a long time with people like Kinara and Beatrice to know all that there is in their agenda. But what I managed to gather in this Holy Week is that the Green Belt Movement is committed to using their resources to forest the whole country, with the collaboration of the ordinary wananchi, using the simplest means available. They encourage people to form themselves into small groups, and these groups into networks, so that they may plant indigenous tries in local seed beds and then transplant those seedlings in public lands. The movement would, following verified documentation of such exercise compensate the individuals, groups or networks for every plant that survives in the public lands. It is hoped that in the process the individuals would take advantage of the seedlings they have to forest their own private lands as well. There is a whole host of ecological consequences behind this initiative, that at times ordinary people do not even bother to understand, though, amazingly enough, they really appreciate any given explanation to that effect.

The Mbaga experience was deliberately organized (perhaps even hurriedly) to take place on Good Friday for the necessary participation of many and for the theological implications. Certainly in that hurry, Mr. Kinara and Mrs. Wafumbwa had to make up their mind and to make arrangements for the long journey virtually on a one day notice. Those who were to provide seedlings were also to put up with a very short notice, which disabled many networks and groups around Kombewa from participating. The Christians too in Mbaga had to put up with a bit of improvisation, lack of water ready at hand, (although the mission is blessed with a lot of water), shortage of jembes for digging the holes, and particularly some lack of organization as far as the distribution of the enormous amount of seedlings and their planting was concerned.

But despite the time factor, there was such a good will on all fronts that at the end of the day it seemed as if everything was planned well in time. Everybody was ready for the event. The role that the young and energetic parish priest, Fr. John Onditi played was vital. This consoles us a lot because there is a lot of follow-up still required for this campaign to take root and spread across the District. We are convinced that the impact was great and that it will have a lasting effect.

{mosimage} Our two guests were hosted in the parish house from where it was handy to go about our activities. The Parish Priest took full charge of their accommodation while I took the responsibility of their transport. Neither of us felt the burden as the two guests as they were not demanding in any way and never complained even when there were obvious inconveniences. They always appreciated what they were given and managed to do without what was missing. They always knew how to excuse the host for whatever shortcoming they would suffer! Wednesday the 12th of April we left Green Belt premises at about 2.30 in the afternoon. We reached Siaya around 8 in the evening. The following day we left at 8.30 for Kombewa, where we met Peter Adino, a “Green volunteer”, who took charge of the whole process of collecting trees. A total of over 2,900 seedlings were collected. There were still many more but the vehicle could not take anymore. Growers were somehow disappointed. But we promised to come again. Thursday was not only important for the people as an opportunity to get an outlet for their seedlings but also an occasion, actually the very first occasion to meet on the ground with some officials from the Green Belt headquarters. Apparently this was for many the main event of Easter. It appeared obvious that they would do with many other visits of that kind. Many seemed to have been reaffirmed and encouraged just with the presence of Joseph and Beatrice. We went back to the parish, unloaded the plants in readiness for the day after.

On Good Friday, Christians from all the seven outstations converged in their hundreds in the parish, after turning their journey from their respective outstations into a long way of the cross, stopping at various villages to contemplate the fourteen stations. Obviously they were tired, but this was Good Friday after all! After sharing some light meal each Christian carried along under the trees, we all gathered around the awesome heap of seedlings. Each sub-parish was given an amount of seedlings to plant in the parish premises. Then our two Green Belt guests took charge of accompanying each group to the plot they were allocated. There, in the small groups, they explained to the curious and keen listeners the value of planting the trees. They demonstrated by planting the first tree, explaining all the requirements for a good planting. Then the group would continue planting the rest. With the numbers, it was not always possible to get in good time to each group. It so happened at one point that Beatrice reached one group, which had finished planting their portion. And what did we find out; there were people who planted the first tree of their life, with the plastic in the hole! I can’t describe how embarrassed and sorry the group was when they realized their mistake, and with the same token their gratitude to Beatrice was great for teaching them how to do things right. In no time they had uprooted all the seedlings and replanted them the right way.

Finished with the tree planting ceremony, we all gathered in the Church. Before the long liturgy of the veneration of the cross could start, our two guests were given a chance to address the assembled Christians to explain to them what is Green Belt Movement and to inform people that they were invited to join. The applause with which the Christians responded left us with no doubt that these were welcome guests and that they were well need in the future.

After the celebration many came asking for the forms to apply so that they would immediately become members of the Green Belt Movement. I hope these expectations will not be disappointed. We promised them forms.

Now that the exercise is over, I am thinking seriously on the best way to continue from here. I did promise the people that I would organize a one week seminar with the very interested Christians in order to initiate them into the movement.

I would like to conclude this report by expressing my sincere gratitude for the opportunity Green Belt Movement granted us to experience the importance of our environment. On behalf of Siaya people I wish to thank the Movement for donating the near 3000 seedlings, which were partly planted in the mission and would partly be planted in the outstations. May the Lord bless your work.


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