Sunday, July 8, 2012

Wangari Maathai Environmental Award Nominations

In a moment of serendipity a few weeks ago, I made an instant friend in the person of Purity Ruchango, founder of Sister2Sister International Outreach Ministry, Inc. While training as a volunteer gallery sitter for Red Dog Gallery, home of the 501c Art for Arts Sake (AFAS) group in Winston-Salem, NC., an artist recommended that I visit another new 501c business down the street, Umoja African Crafts. ( Umoja is Kiswahili for "unity".) 

Tribute to Wangari Maathai

You will hear a great deal more about the remarkable Purity from me in the future, but today I want to share a bit about  Nobel peace laureate Wangari Maathai. Though I was aware of the Greenbelt Movement, I had little knowledge of the extraordinary woman behind it. My new friend, Purity, is a native of the same region of Kenya as Wangari Maathai. During a recent visit with Purity, I noticed she  was reading UnbowedDr. Maathai's autobiography. Purity said it was her second reading, in part as tribute to Dr. Maathai's passing in September of 2011. Because Dr. Mathaai inspired Purity to establish Sister2Sister International, I was motivated to read Unbowed. I finished reading it today. But considering how Dr. Maathai's words and struggles tug at my heart and lift my soul, her story will stay with me forever.

In her autobiography Dr. Maathai said, "the Nobel Committee made a [connection] between peace, sustainable management of resources, and good governance. This was the first time such a linkage had been forged by the Nobel Committee and it was the first time that the committee had decided to recognize its importance by awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to someone who had worked in these areas for over three decades. As we had said for many years, humanity needs to rethink peace and security and work toward cultures of peace by governing itself more democratically, respecting the rule of law and human rights, deliberately and consciously promoting justice and equity, and managing resources more responsibly and accountably--not only for the present but also for the future generations."

Just hours ago I learned of a new environmental award, the Wangari Mathaai Award,  from the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) that commemorates renowned environmentalist, the late Wangari Maathai. It is in the amount of 20,000 US dollars and will be presented this September in recognition of outstanding contributions made by an individual to preserve, restore and sustainably manage forests and to communicate the key role forests play in rural livelihoods and the environment across generations. The deadline for nominations is Friday, 20 July 2012. 

Please spread the news of this new award. To have her mission perpetuated in such a manner is an honor Dr. Mathaai could never have imagined when she began her journey so long ago. I believe she was correct in saying, "Heaven is green."
Until I can next get out of the garden, as always I can be found at:


  1. What a brave and inspiring woman! Thank you so much for sharing her with us, Bonnie. (And I think the universe is trying to tell you something. Serendipity like this is always the start of a journey. Be joyful as you follow.) And now I think I need to go find spots to plant more trees.

  2. Bernadette, even a tiny seedling is a wonderful thing. And you can bet I'll be planting many trees soon. It's amazing how Dr. Mathaai's tree campaign helped transform a corrupt, evil government. What a Woman is right!

  3. Thanks a lot for sharing this post with your readers.