Graduating TWP’s Solar Suitcase Training

By José Chalit, Marketing Manager

Earlier this summer, Trees, Water & People facilitated a 3-day long Suitcase workshop at the Pine Point School in Minnesota on the White Earth Reservation in partnership with Winona LaDuke’s non-profit Honor The Earth. In addition to educating 8 students, 2 science teachers and the school principal on the basis of solar energy, our National team also implemented activities from the National Indian Youth Leadership Project (NIYLP), aimed at boosting self-esteem and social-emotional development through hands-on learning.

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Student from Pine Point School holding a HELIO light

Upon completion of the solar suitcase workshop, students and teachers also received HELIO “lights”, a portable, solar-powered charger and flashlight created by Makers4Good, as a token of graduation and achievement of the solar curriculum.

Rebecca Geraldi, Giving Coordinator of Makers4Good recently told us:

When Makers4Good first learned about Trees, Water, & People, and for all they strive, we made a concerted effort to find a way to help support those efforts.

Our solar-powered light and power bank, HELIO, is a wonderful companion to the solar suitcases distributed by Trees, Water & People to U.S. Tribal Lands. HELIO provides personal and portable light and power that can be used by the same community members, on an individual basis. HELIO can charge phones and light the night, helping to keep people connected, productive, and safe.

This meaningful outcome strongly supports Makers4Good’s overriding social good mission, and we are delighted to partner with Trees, Water, & People. Together, we are brightening the lives of others — all with the power of the sun and the shared common aim of making a difference.” – Rebecca Geraldi, Giving Coordinator, Makers4Good

And, for a limited time, Rebecca’s team is offering you 20% off their HELIO light by entering the discount code “TWP19” at checkout here: https://helio.energy/buy-now

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The lights are on!

As we expand our solar suitcase trainings to other tribal communities aiming to reclaim control of their natural resources and improve their communities, we hope that graduates of the program can utilize HELIO in practical and educational scenarios.

Thank you, Makers4Good, for your commitment to social good and environmental sustainability – collaboration from organizations like yours is indispensable in the process of creating positive change!

 

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Graduates of 2019 Solar Suitcase Program at Pine Point School!

 

Protected Area Management in El Salvador

by Sebastian Africano, Executive Director 

Before moving to Fort Collins, CO in 2009, my wife and I settled in western El Salvador, a natural wonderland dotted with volcanoes, teeming with biodiversity, and a 40-minute drive from cool misty peaks to sweltering coastlines. Trees, Water & People (TWP) had worked there since 2001, through a small partner called Árboles y Agua para el Pueblo (AAP) building cookstoves, composting latrines, and maintaining the most beautiful tree nursery among all their programs.

Unfortunately, the country went through a particularly rough spell between 2010 – 2016, where political turmoil left a vacuum filled by some unsavory elements in society and significantly affected our ability to operate. Nevertheless, AAP adjusted to the new reality and began looking for new ways to improve their country from within.

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Thanks to the FIAES fund from the U.S. and El Salvadorian governments, Árboles y Agua para el Pueblo was named co-manager of the Reserva de la Biosfera Apaneca-Ilamatepec. 

Leveraging a strong reputation, AAP was able to gain access to a bilateral reconciliation fund in 2013, which was put in place by El Salvador and the U.S. to strengthen public spaces, including National Parks. They were named co-managers of a small National Park in the west of the country and began working with communities along the outskirts of this park, developing Ecotourism capacity and providing environmental education through local school systems.

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Árboles y Agua para el Pueblo provides environmental education opportunities for local schools around the National Park, including tree planting!

Four years later, the small, dedicated team at AAP is now the head of a consortium of non-governmental organizations tasked with co-managing a network of parks throughout the west of the country. Their work focuses on improving everything from trails to interpretive signage, to biodiversity conservation, and alternative economic opportunities for youth. The road is long, but as El Salvador emerges from another dark patch of history, there is optimism on the horizon again, and TWP is proud to have continued supporting a positive future for the country.

If you would like to stay in the loop about Trees, Water & People’s work or how to get involved, please sign up for our email list.

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Notes from the Field: Transforming Rural Environments in Haiti

 by Sharifa Bagalaaliwo, Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team

Haitian farmers

Located in the quiet and scenic Northwest region of Haiti – a small team is doing big things using holistic and sustainable methods to transform the rural landscape of the communes of Anse Rouge and Terre Neuve.

Since 2008 Transformation de l’Environment Rural (TER)/ Transformation of Rural Environment has been the brainchild of the Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team in Haiti (AMURT- Haiti). With the support of Trees Water & People (TWP), the TER project has been helping communities preserve the fragile ecological balance through grassroots initiatives focused on watershed protection, soil conservation, sustainable agro-forestry as well as integrated water management.

Exchange of tree nursery techniques, Hatte-Dimanche
Exchange of tree nursery
techniques, Hatte-Dimanche

But what are we talking about when we say environmental transformation?  For starters, our integrated approach relies on organizing Haitian farmers into Self-Help Group (SHG) structures, providing technical agro-forestry training and accompaniment, creating model demonstration parcels, and helping farmers save their own money, manage the self-generated funds and create micro-lending programs that allow them to rely less and less on external inputs. The SHG’s have registered savings of more than $1,500 USD per group!

As part of this integrated approach, AMURT-Haiti has also used support from TWP to transform plots of land into community demonstration garden parcels that are models of sustainable farming and watershed protection. The demonstration gardens are accompanying farmers to develop more sustainable methods they can practice in the model gardens and then take back to apply in their private yards and farms. Hand-in-hand with this, the TER program emphasizes collaborative leadership and autonomous initiatives through the Self-Help Group approach. This collaborative strategy includes the creation of tool and seed bank cooperatives (Boutique Agricoles). The Boutique Agricoles have made it easier for farmers to access essential materials and products locally saving them time and money, increasing self-sufficiency and keeping the focus on the environment and agriculture.

Rivier Forad tree nursery
Rivier Forad tree nursery

As partners of TWP, AMURT – Haiti is also proud to admit that something else that’s been hugely successful is our focus on tree planting. Over the last year, this partnership has led to the planting of approximately 100,000 trees in three villages with a special emphasis on Moringa. Tree nurseries set up in selected villages (Hatte -Dimanche, Ti Plas, Rivier Forad, and Gros Roch) have been the base of ongoing training and exchange opportunities between our tree nursery technicians, farmers, and the community. Growing community participation during annual tree planting days have shown us that there is a greater appreciation for trees, increased awareness of the need for tree planting and improved knowledge of planting techniques.

A SHG member plants Moringa trees
An SHG member plants Moringa trees in Northwest Haiti.

All in all it has been busy for AMURT – Haiti’s TER team and a fruitful and valued partnership with Trees Water & People. In the following months and year we are excited to continue working alongside TWP in Haiti to help strengthen local capacities and keep helping people and the planet.

Trees, Water & People’s 2013 Highlights

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It’s been a busy year at Trees, Water & People! On Earth Day, we celebrated our 15th anniversary of community-based sustainable development in Latin America and on tribal lands of the United States. Over these 15 years, we have been honored to help tens of thousands of families live better, more healthy lives. Utilizing appropriate technology, such as clean cookstoves, composting latrines, solar heaters, and solar lights, the communities we work with are learning how to protect their local environment and make a better life for their loved ones. With access to appropriate technology, plus training in sustainable agriculture, watershed protection, and renewable energy, current and future generations will be better equipped to face a changing climate.

In 2014, our staff and local partners will continue their commitment to helping local people protect, conserve, and manage their most precious natural resources. Our work is based on the belief that natural resource conservation is absolutely essential to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of communities everywhere. Conservation and economic development can, and should, go hand-in-hand!

We hope you will continue to follow our work in 2014 and beyond. Have a healthy and happy New Year!

 

Development from the Ground Up

community tree planting central america

Our unique Community-Based Development Model is based on the philosophy that the best way to help those most in need is to involve them directly in the design and implementation of local environmental and economic development initiatives. This creates ownership, involvement, and financial sustainability well into the future. Our proven development model of training and execution, coupled with an enterprise approach, engages and inspires local residents to preserve their precious natural resources.

community based development

For over a decade, we have been working in partnership with national and international non-governmental organizations, community organizations, businesses, government entities, private foundations, local leaders, and community members. Our projects have been well-received in communities throughout Latin America and on Native American Reservations in the United States because we engage with local people and respect local culture.

Learn more! Click here to see an example of our community-based model in action.

Notes from the Field: Environmental Education in Honduras

by Claudia Menendez, International Program Coordinator

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Elementary students in Honduras learn the importance of conserving and protecting forests through an environmental education program designed by TWP and AHDESA.

At the National University of Agriculture (UNA) in Olancho, Honduras, Trees, Water & People (TWP) and our Honduran partner, Asociación Hondureña para El Desarrollo (AHDESA), have helped establish community reforestation projects and a renewable energy demonstration site. In 2011, TWP helped fund the start up of a tree nursery with 12 fruit species and 10 hardwood species, for a total of 20,000 trees. The UNA worked directly with the communities of La Florida and Sante Fe and 10 elementary schools in the area. Students were involved in environmental education classes where they learned about the consequences of deforestation and forest degradation; and,  most importantly, they learned how to be part of the solution by planting trees. The students practiced land-mapping exercises to understand how topography and hydrology work together to create ideal areas for planting. Participating schools included:

1.    Escuela de la aldea La florida

2.    Escuela de Los Ángeles

3.    Escuela de La Unión, Talgua

4.    Escuela de La Flor del Café

5.    Escuela de Buena Vista

6.    Escuela de santa Fe de Buena Vista

7.    Escuela de Jamasquire

8.    Escuela de La Jagua

9.    Escuela de Vallecito de Culmi

10.   Escuela de Pinabetales

In 2012, with funding from the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), TWP has set up a renewable energy demonstration site that includes clean cookstove models, a solar panel with water pump, and a biodigestor. The focus of the site is to provide a hands-on training center where university students can learn about the benefits of renewable energy, and how to plan and implement projects that increase access to clean energy in rural communities.

Learn more about our work with ECPA by clicking here.

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Students learn about reforestation through an environmental education curriculum designed by TWP and AHDESA.