Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Laureate, passed away on Sunday, September 25.
The re-greening of East Africa that is occurring right now is largely a result of her work. She stood with the poor, oppressed, and powerless. She took responsibility for the land she inhabited and worked to restore it for everyone. She overcame oppression and violence by planting trees with children and women. Today, the corrupt government that attacked her is gone, but the forests that were planted by her and by those she taught remain and continue to grow.
Wangari Maathai understood the relationship between environmental quality and poverty, and was often the only person who dared to make that connection. She planted trees not only for their own sake, but to provide food and fuel for people who had access to neither. She recognized that the actions of those who are alive now will determine the conditions in which our descendants find themselves. She chose to act as if her decisions matter. May we all do the same.
We hope to honor her by playing some small role in the great work of regenerating the world’s forests.
“You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them.”
– Wangari Maathai