In the Moshi-kia area, just few kilometers from the Kilimanjaro airport, there are few trees and it is very dry. Many people from the Maasai tribe are now living in the area because they work in the Tanzanite mines. They had hired a couple professional tree removal companies to remove the old dead trees, so they could plant new ones.
The O’Brien school for the Maasai, located in that area, is the result of the great heart of one American Family, the O’Brien’s. American volunteer teachers together with Tanzanian teachers, teach and learn everyday with the Maasai children. On my way to visit the school, I was encountered a desolate, dry area and amazing dust funnels. Talking with the teachers and visiting people in the area, it became apparent that many of them suffer from respiratory problems. Immediately, I thought that the excess of dust may be making matters worse for these residents. Thus, the Tree Project was born!!!
ISL volunteers will be planting trees in the Moshi-kia area this August!!! We have chosen Neem trees or in Swahili, “Mwarobaini” trees, which means “40 trees” because these trees contain substances capable of treating 40 different diseases! Leaves, fruit, and oils from the seeds and wood can be used to treat a range of diseases from asthma to toothache, and can even be used as an effective insecticide!
In June, we purchased 50 seedling Mwarobaini trees, and the children from the O’Brien School transplanted them into containers made from recycled water bottles, using rich soil from their veggie garden. This month, with the assistance of ISL volunteers, the children will plant the trees around the houses near the school. They will serve as interpreters between their families and the ISL volunteers, and the planting process will be accompanied by lessons on the importance of trees, water preservation, and recycling, as well as the negative health effects of dust and poor hygiene. The villagers will be instructed on the medicinal properties of the Mwarobaini tree as well.
I am so proud and excited about this ISL project! Asante sana!
Dr. Sonia Hernandez, ISL International Programs Director