How 50,000 saplings were birthed through our Uganda Grove in three months!
TreeSisters Groves are our network of local women's circles created by individual treesisters stepping into feminine leadership all around the world. Each Grove offers its own version of the work of TreeSisters as expressed through the Grove Tender, (the woman / women who lead that particular circle).
Our first African Grove started up in 2017. See here for the amazing story of the beginnings of Uganda Grove. Early in 2018 the Grove went through huge leaps of development and out of those came an audacious and ambitious project called Gender Park - a centre to offer local women a chance to create their own business whilst at the same time offering a country wide education of the importance of reforestation.
Here, Groves Mama Jenny Smith and Gender Park co-founder Marima Nabukeera enjoy a conversation about the flourishing and inspiring work of Uganda Grove.
~What is the main reason for Gender Park?
Let me give you a brief background about Uganda as relates to environment. Uganda is a part of the regional program working in the Lake Victoria Basin in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda; along the Mara River Basin in Kenya and Tanzania; the Katonga River Basin in Uganda through Nature Uganda; and the Kagera River Basin in Rwanda .
"Gender Park" is a unique venue/site/campus that was designed and established by treesisters in Uganda, where victims of discrimination more especially the LGBT living at the margins of the society receive training services in practical skills like; tree planting, hair-dressing, gender equality activism and much more . The following is our target group; LGBT community, single mothers, albinos, sex workers, teenage school-going girls, youth in conflict with the law, victims of female genital mutilation, rape and persons living with HIV/AIDS.
~ What do you offer the women who come?
In addition to the above services, we empower the women to embrace, promote, reclaim and advocate for the uncompromising power of feminism in today's world challenges.
~What benefits do the women who set up their business with you receive from their experience in Gender Park?
Jenny, I can outline a few out of the many:
They receive free training in hair-dressing and bead making from recycled papers.
They receive a start-up fund upon their completion of training or course.
They become Ambassadors of the Gender Park.
They freely choose to become TreeSisters whose primary goal is to secure the ecological integrity and sustainability of the environment for the benefit of its inhabitants and biological diversity.
They receive free legal support from Equality Heals Africa (EHA) which secures their businesses from aggression and other circumstances.
~ How does being involved in Gender Park change women's lives?
• It changes their mindset towards trees and dependency on masculine support.
• They become their Sisters' Keeper for every member.
• Their lives become resourceful to their own families and needs.
• They become experts of their own savings and dreams for expanding their businesses.
• They become defenders of their own rights at all times.
~When you imagine Gender Park in one years time what do you see?
• We see Gender Park becoming a national incubator from which all women of purpose are made/transformed/empowered.
• We see it becoming a regional provider, producer and promoter of all types of trees which this Country needs in conserving the environment.
• We see it becoming the mother-of-reforestation.
• We see it becoming the excellence center for TreeSisters in Uganda.
~When you imagine Gender Park in 5 years time what do you see?
• It will become a global incubator or training center for women.
• It will become a global center of holistic development for women regardless of their sexual orientation or nationality.
• It will become the first Gender Park in Uganda/Africa to have a Guest House together with a Training site.
• It will become a Global retreat site for all TreeSisters across the oceans/world.
• It will be a legally Incorporated or registered as Company/Organization with a unique spirit of sisterhood.
~Please tell us about your experience with the tree planting work
Wow I can share that with you! On Feb 26 this year, Equality Heals Africa approached a certain Tree Planting group in a far district called "Rakai" to allow me or someone from our club be accepted for a free course in there. On the 28th, we received the news that only one person from our club was accepted. And since Phionah was still sick by then, I am the one whose name was sent to the trainers and I was sent my transport to go and attend. The training took two weeks. The trainers came from South Africa, affiliated to a gay Organization which I recall it by the names of Social Justice.
~What were you taught on it?
I was taught on the following concepts:
• Water harvesting using fellow cement and underground tanks – the underground tanks are made using locally available materials.
• Fish farming and fruit growing.
• Waste recycling.
• Tree planting or greening.
• Organic manure making.
• Seedling Preservation and Germination Management.