The original objectives of The Tumaini Trust have been met. The purpose was to provide secondary schooling for pupils taught by our founder Kath, as the local secondary school had closed. Through your generous donations and sponsorships, 30 pupils were enabled to study at private boarding schools and a vocational training centre. Some were also assisted through university. A local secondary school has now been open for some years and these fees are more affordable.
So, the Trust has now diversified to help to provide small scale sustainable participatory development schemes in the Kilimanjaro region. This area is extremely beautiful and fertile, although there are few jobs. Many villagers leave to find work in the cities. If more employment is provided locally, villagers have a choice of whether to stay or seek work elsewhere.
Working with some of Kath’s former pupils and local villagers, our tree planting initiative is underway. Participants from Mshiri have set up the Village Environment Development Group (VEDG) and collect seeds and grow saplings which are then planted on their shambas (small farms) as well as common land. Your donations allow The Tumaini Trust to pay VEDG the market value of each sapling when it is planted which, on average is about 70 pence each. As the trees grow, some will bear fruit and others will be pruned for firewood and animal fodder. So far, about 700 saplings have been cultivated and planted in Kilimanjaro.
Mshiri village is a short walk from Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA). We work in collaboration with KINAPA which has discovered that where non-indigenous trees are removed within the National Park, nature naturally rejuvenates itself. In the past, local villagers, including those from Mshiri, were permitted to collect firewood and animal fodder from within the Park boundaries. Human activity within KINAPA is now prohibited, hence villagers can no longer enjoy such benefits. Planting more trees in Mshiri enables villagers to prune them for firewood and animal fodder, removing the need to enter the National Park.
Here’s a short video of our tree planting: https://youtu.be/-bwCF6KF4Ck
The following photos were taken in Mshiri in 2021:
So, why are trees important?
Not only are trees beautiful to look at, but they are also essential to life on Earth. They provide shade on a hot day, fruit to eat and habitat for wildlife. Trees are “The lungs of the Earth” and are vitally important in the fight against climate change. As well as absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, trees act as a carbon sink, which means that carbon is stored within their trunks, branches, roots and leaves throughout their lifetime.
It is now widely accepted that we are facing a climate crisis which has led to extreme weather events. Humans have contributed to this ongoing and worsening situation by releasing greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is one of these gases which then traps heat in the atmosphere. Planting trees can help remove some carbon from the atmosphere as each new tree will absorb carbon throughout its lifetime.
Did you know that an area the size of the UK is reportedly deforested every year?
In the UK, only 2.5% of our ancient woodland remains. Further afield, many tropical rainforests are being destroyed to make way for huge plantations to grow soya, for animal feed; cacao, to make chocolate and palm oil, used in many supermarket goods from biscuits to soap.
The Kilimanjaro area has also suffered deforestation, not to enable huge plantations to grow luxury goods for European markets, but to meet basic, essential needs. Villagers do not have mains gas and few have electricity so wood has traditionally been used to build fires for cooking. However, felling trees for firewood is now prohibited in Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) which is a short walk from Mshiri village (the above photo was taken over 10 years ago).
Forbidding the destruction of forests in KINAPA is crucial for many reasons. As well as absorbing and storing carbon, the tropical forest is a habitat and promotes biodiversity. KINAPA has found that since human access to the National Park has been prohibited, indigenous trees and plants have grown back naturally. Forests also play a vital role in reducing the chances of zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19, making the leap from animals to humans. Trees act as a buffer between primates and humans, thereby lessening the likelihood of them coming into contact with each other.
Our project is sustaining livelihoods as not only do participants receive payment when their saplings are planted, but the trees can be pruned for animal fodder and firewood. Other trees will bear fruit when they mature. Eventually, some will be felled for firewood or to make furniture, but before any tree is cut down, the owner must obtain a permit from the village authorities and pledge to grow 5 trees in its place.