Five years ago a group of friends from different cities and countries got together to plant trees. All had in common a great love for nature and especially for the place in which they lived. All were and still are inhabitants of Arraial d’Ajuda, in the south of Bahia. They chose this place for its natural riches and for the unique enchantment that only this corner of the planet has. However, what really brought them together was their concern as they saw that their beloved home, so lovingly chosen by all, was being violently ravaged by the greed of the tourism industry and the predatory real estate market. They decided to form a collective and assumed the goal of planting one million trees. I am part of this group and one of the founders of the collective.
It was five years of many ups and downs. We discover that our dream is much more difficult than we initially imagined. After all, it’s not just about going out and planting trees around. It is necessary to plant, maintain and care for what was planted for a few years after planting. Planting involves obtaining resources, creating the means for plants to be watered and not uprooted, burned or damaged, making the community aware of the importance of trees through socio-environmental education and asking for their support. It also ends up being unavoidable to take a political stand and seek legal ways to act against the constant, abusive and ungoverned deforestation that irremediably destroys the most precious assets of present and future generations. In other words, it’s a lot of work, much more than a small collective of dreamy volunteers is capable of embracing alone. We decided to become an association and undertake the complex path of professionalization.
It has been an arduous and beautiful journey, a great adventure. Although all the members of the association have to have other jobs in order to survive and they have very little time, together we help, motivate and encourage each other to move forward. We are looking for ways for the association to support itself and start hiring professionals to dedicate more time to this important and essential work, and we also keep calling for more volunteers and sponsors to help us. We continue planting tirelessly with the certainty that, from seedling to seedling, we will plant well over a million.
Not only are the trees growing, our association is also expanding and receiving more supporters. There are always new enthusiasts joining us, sometimes with more time and energy to give than those who have been here from the start. And it is very good that it is so. This is not a dream of a single person or a single group. It is a dream of all humanity that becomes more and more urgent with the passage of time. We’re just getting started. That’s why, today, with five years of collective and one year of association, the best way to congratulate this group is by joining it, collaborating in some way, being part of the association or simply doing your part wherever you are, because we are not separate. Our roots are intertwined, we are all part of this beautiful planet. If loving is caring, then let’s take care of our home. Together we are much stronger.