One of my colleagues and friends in Kenya, Paula Braitstein,
also happens to be the heroine of the Pombo-Sabor (Kaptagat)
Forest. Kaptagat Forest is a highland forest northeast of where we
stay in Eldoret. This forest originally was rich with amazing
cedars, rosewood, and fig trees, but the forest cover has been
Here's Paula's description of what's been going on with the forest
(from The Star):
"The link between forests and
water is undisputed and it is well known that conserving forests
brings rains and conserves natural waterways, yet forests all over
Kenya, including Pombo-Sabor, are being eliminated with resultant
droughts, floods, erosion and desertification," says
Braitstein. "Most of the commercially valuable wood such as
rosewood and cedar have been removed from the Pombo-Sabor forest
long ago and charcoal burners and firewood makers are rapidly
destroying what's left. They destroy in a day what took hundreds of
years to become what it was."
Paula is one of AMPATH's co-directors for the research field
program and a great researcher, but her secret talents include
community organization and environmentalism. Paula has spear-headed
an amazing community-based effort to replant the Kaptagat Forest.
Today, her group organized their second annual tree-planting event.
It was the official Day of the African Child, and so they involved
over 400 children from 2 dozen local schools and gave them each two
seedlings to take home - one for planting at their home and one for
their school. It was a great day to celebrate the forest and
Africa's children with trees to plant for the generations to
A rough translation from the Swahili:
Plant a tree.
A tree is water.
Water is health.
Health is wealth.