Since September 2010, Greenpop has been making a name for itself as one of South Africa’s most loved social enterprises. They practice a grassroots approach to environmental action and education, planting trees in undergreened communities, monitoring their progress and educating beneficiaries. Directors Misha Teasedale, Lauren O’donnell and Jeremy Hewitt are actively involved in plant days, passing their passion onto volunteers and beneficiaries alike.
Up until now their focus has been predominantly on Cape Town but 1 July saw the kick off a Livingstone-based reforestation and conservation education project aptly named Trees for Zambia. I was lucky enough to join the three-week, 5000 tree programme for a week of planting, learning, teaching and merriment.
After a two-hour 1time flight from Joburg, we arrived in Livingstone, Zambia, an eclectic bunch that included an engineer, banker, journalist and half a dozen beauty queens. The Miss Earth contestants disembarked the plane with ease, as comfortable in their heels as ordinary folk are in their sneakers. Greenpop has a knack for attracting volunteers from all walks of life, equally keen to get their hands dirty – manicures and all.
Greenpop crew greeted us merrily in the busy arrivals (and departure) hall and we hopped into our overlanding bus for Maramba River Lodge where we would camp. All together at camp it was evident that the overwhelming majority of us were women. The handful of guys smiled broadly, patting themselves on the back for a decision well made (men take note).
Multicoloured lanterns, hand-painted wooden signs and fairy lights decorated the campsite, kitted out with a nifty log stage, wooden picnic tables and fire drums. It was a space clearly geared towards fun. Perhaps this is what differentiates Greenpop most from other social enterprises – they recognise the importance of having fun and incorporate it into everything they do. An excellent tactic for keeping people happy, although their hands may be blistered and their clothes covered in dirt. We spent the evening soaking up the fun, not a frown in the crowd.