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How Planting Trees is Putting a Smile Back on Mrs Kaliati’s Face

Augustine visited Mrs Beti Kaliati in November to see how joining the Tree Project this year under our Welsh Government Funding impacts her life and family.

*translated from chichewa

“I am Beti Kaliati, I spend my time working on my land and caring for my 5 children. I live in Chamba village in TA Somba. I cook on the open fire, we use 3 big bundles of firewood every week. My family has no trees, so we buy from Mpemba market. On Saturday, me and my daughter go to the market, it takes more than 1 hour to reach there. Buying the bundles uses a lot of our family money, so buying food and things for the children is hard.

In the past 3 years I have been having money problems. Our land has become infertile and we have needed to buy lots of fertilizer and pesticides. To manage this I have been forced to take village loans, the interest is so high, I am working hard to get out of this constant owing of money. When the project teachers explained the Tree Project, I could straight away see how it could help me and my family in so many ways. I know trees take some time to grow, but some of the seeds we have never seen before, these can even provide fruit in only 1 year.

Being part of the Tree Project gives me and my family hope that things can change. The fertilizser trees will help make the soil fertile again and the firewood trees we have been trained to harvest them so they keep growing. Matiki (Tree Project Team) helped me look at my land and choose the best places to plant the different trees, he also said to plant around the house- to stop the wind blowing the roof off if a cyclone comes again. Some of the trees will help us even in 2024, the fruit trees are fast growing and I will be able to leave something when I pass for my children. Matiki and the other project staff are preparing us for planting the trees in the raining season, and teaching about how to protect and care for the trees so it is a forest that can help my family for many years in the future.”

The Tree Project is not just about planting trees. From the beginning, the project has had a strong passion to build momentum behind the cultural importance and value that trees can hold. The project has always focused on helping people learn how to manage trees sustainably.

Malawi (like so much of the world) has a history of chopping down trees without regard to future generations or imminent catastrophe.

We see so many dangerous landslides because trees are no longer holding soil. Plus, poor land management means infertile soils and crops fail, leaving people desperate and hungry.

Planting vast forests to save the planet was never a solution for us living in Malawi; the fight to protect a forest without a community’s support is (in our books) futile, and there is no social or economic benefit for struggling communities.

Rather, we have chosen the slow road of working hand in hand with people, finding a solution that will restore the land, bring families income and see forests rise from community-led initiatives.

By Twinning your Christmas Tree, you will be directly helping families like Beti Kaliati’s.

And you can even hop on over to Malawi to volunteer with us and work with Augustine, farmers (including Beti) and the Tree Project team.


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