When Cardiff Breakfast Rotary President Michael Brooke and his wife Elsebeth visited Uganda a few years ago with a group from Lisvane church from the Welsh capital, they made an eventful three-hour journey to a small hamlet called Manafwa close to the border with Kenya.
There, the couple went to see the African Rural Development Initiative (ARDI) which had been set up a few years ago with the involvement of Action Aid.
Whilst in Uganda, the couple became aware of the importance of trees in this equatorial country, especially because of a past history of deforestation.
For really a very small outlay, our club has been able to make a real impact with Rotary trees.”
Last year, with the encouragement of then Rotary International President, Ian Riseley, Rotarians were challenged to plant trees as part of the world-wide drive to tackle climate change.
Michael contacted Joseph Weyusya, who leads the ARDI project, to see if they would be able to use the funding to support the tree campaign.
“We had noticed that the area around Manafwa seemed very short of trees, apart from the inevitable banana plants,” explained Michael.
Joseph replied enthusiastically how they had embarked on a similar project a few years ago and were keen to apply the lessons learnt from that.
Rotary Cardiff applied for a district grant to double their own contribution of £200.
“The money was transferred to ARDI through our good friends at PONT, the Ponypridd charity which operates from Mbale in Eastern Uganda,” added Michael.
“We have now had a report from Joseph on progress with the tree-planting, which has had to be synchronised with the short Ugandan rain season.
“They have planted 10,000 saplings of various tree species in specially prepared nurseries.
“Some will be planted around the compound, while others will be taken by the children to their own homes.
“But the bulk of the trees will go to local farmers for planting around their borders and along river banks.
“The typical farm in this part of Uganda is a subsistence smallholding, providing only enough food to support the family that owns it. All recipients of the trees will be given guidance on looking after them.
“For really a very small outlay, our club has been able to make a real impact with Rotary trees.
“The credit for this belongs to the energy and enthusiasm of people like Joseph and his team. It’s a real privilege to be able to help them.”