Trees for Zambia 2013: a photographic summary

Posted by Sarah Isaacs on 14 August 2013

For two weeks in July I was lucky enough to join the Greenpop team in Livingstone, Zambia, for the second year of their reforestation and eco education project, Trees for Zambia.

During that time I laughed more than usual, made lifelong friends, was treated to one of SA’s leading musical acts and got to see a lunar rainbow over the mighty Victoria Falls. Oh and we planted 3 358 trees! At schools, on local farms and in indigenous forest.

Greenpop is an organisation that plants trees. But it is also an organisation that makes people happy. They understand the importance of fun collaboration, especially when the going is tough. And tree planting can be tough. The hard ground and Zambian heat are gruelling but at the end of the day when you’re sitting around a campfire with your fellow planters, dreaming up ways of changing the world, calloused hands are easily forgotten.

I pay homage to Greenpop – its hard working ethos, commitment to eco education and sustainability and intuitive understanding that affecting change needn’t be tiresome. On the contrary, it should be a celebration and Trees for Zambia was exactly that – a celebration of good people doing sustainable work and enjoying it.

Here’s a photo summary of what we got up to.

The Greenpop Village stage where we watched movies and documentaries, were treated to live music and received talks from environmental heroes and educators.

Small details like this around camp made it a home away from home. A warm, comfortable, kind, loving place to rest your feet after a hard day’s plant.

Volunteer orientation kicks off with a visit to a charcoal burning kiln in Dambwa Forest. Sadly hundreds year old rosewood and Zambezi teak are burning favourites.

After lunch on orientation day, volunteers spend the afternoon at Victoria Falls, the perfect introduction to Zambia.

Plant days start with packing and offloading the bus. A chain formation makes it easy peasy.

Before planting starts, volunteers, the Greenpop team and local community members do an icebreaker to get the spirit of collaboration going.

And then we plant! On this day we put 400 trees into Dambwa Forest, an indigenous forest threatened by coal production.

Local community members joined us to plant 400 trees in Dambwa Forest.

Hottie Josh Ramsey kept us entertained on plant days.

Two days of every week are dedicated to planting trees at schools. The kids from Libala Basic treated us to a welcome performance. I was blown away by their energy, curiosity and total willingness to get involved.

Before planting students learn about the importance of tree planting and maintenance.

Volunteers and students team up in small groups. Each group member is assigned a specific responsibility so that every tree that goes into the ground has the greatest chance of survival.

We planted a baobab for Madiba on his 95th birthday. Happy birthday Tata.

The kids at Libala Basic wrote stone messages to surround Madiba’a baobab. Each and every student knew who he was and why he’s so special.

After the day’s trees have been planted, schools receive a tree certificate and a written commitment to care for their trees. Followed by some celebratory jumping.

Each week a small group of volunteers worked together with students to paint a mural on one of their school walls.

We also spent an afternoon a week playing soccer at a local club. It was often a barefoot affair, involving lots of dancing, laughing and high-fiving.

This year saw the introduction of Earth Fest. Tree recipients, stakeholders and local community members joined the Greenpop village for a day of eco workshops and fun activities, followed by an evening of live music.

Jeremy Loops performing at Earth Fest.

JHB band Blacklight Panda was another performing act at Earth Fest. They joined Greenpop Director, Lauren O’Donnell, for Zambia FM’s Tree Tuesday slot.

Greenpop Directors Lauren O’Donnell and Misha Teasedale are hands on leaders. Their vision started in 2010 with an idea to plant 1000 trees in a day. Today Greenpop has planted over 23 000 trees.

Uncle Ben, as he is affectionately known, is Greenpop’s Zambian Director. He worked closely with Julia Taylor, photographed here, to promote solar cooking, work with and set up school eco clubs, monitor the trees already planted, forge partnerships and plan the planting activities for Trees for Zambia 2013.

Lloyd used to be a charcoal burner. Now he plants and supplies fruit trees. A one-eighty worth celebrating.

The Trees for Zambia team celebrating the final day of the project with a customary “TREEEEEEEEEEES”.

Check out the Trees for Zambia 2012 video below and more pics from this year’s project here.

Sign up as a volunteer for Trees for Zambia 2014 and join the treevolution!

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