The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the grassroots Green Belt Movement of Kenya, Wangari Maathai discovered her life’s work by reconnecting with the rural women with whom she had grown up. They told her their lives had become intolerable: they were walking longer distances for firewood, clean water was scarce, the soil was disappearing and their children were suffering from malnutrition. Maathai thought to herself, “Well, why not plant trees?” She soon discovered tree planting had a ripple effect of empowering change. It served to mitigate deforestation, poverty, ignorance, embedded political interests and political oppression. Ultimately the movement helped bring down Kenya’s dictatorship. Maathai’s visionary understanding of the vital link between the health of the land, its people and its government stands as an example for Africa and the world. Directed and produced by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater.
Discussion with filmmaker Lisa Merton, Marie Nkom Tamoifo, President and Director, Association for Green Youth, and a representative of the Green Belt Movement follows screening.