Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wangari Maathai

I just finished reading a wonderful children's book to my kids: Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai, written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola.

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (Frances Foster Books)Wangari was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 - the first woman from Africa to receive it.  She drew a correlation "between the health of her country's natural environment and the well-being of her country's people."

The author describes beautifully what action Wangari took to improve her native land of Kenya and its people. The watercolors are gorgeous, the words beautiful.  The feeling portrayed is simple, inspirational and powerful.  The author wrote: "She had a simple and big idea."

At the end of the book, in the author's note, she stated: Wangari "simply believes that those who feel strongly about something and understand what needs to be done must act."

I love that.  And I want my kids to feel the power of that belief also.  And to see how huge the results can be - even if the initial idea is small and simple.  The author quotes Wangari: "Remember what millions of hands can do."  Wangari taught the women in Kenya: "They did not have to wait for the government to help them.  They could begin to change their own lives."

Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977.  Wangari said, "I always felt that our work was not simply about planting trees.  It was about inspiring people to take charge of their environment, the system that governed them, their lives and their future."

I am going to buy the book, if I can.  It is a wonderful depiction of a people who found hope and courage once they were empowered with education and training from a single woman, and then dedicated themselves, their energy and resources to improve their own lives in a poverty-stricken developing country.

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