Today I participate in an effort of reforestation in the small community of Pozas de Avizu. Pronatura Noroeste has brought along about 50 little trees of different kinds, that will grow well with little water in the arid soil. The place we plant them on is the „park“ of the town, although it currently really looks more like a dusty parking lot with a lost looking basketball hoop in the middle and loads of trash everywhere.
But Alfonso Tambo Sesenja, the Cucopah governor of the region, and the local residents want to change this. And Pronatura is providing the knowledge and support to turn this into an actual park. The trees we plant grow fast, and in only a few years some of them will provide much needed shade and not least of all, some beauty to this place, where the only beauty seems to be what is radiating of the kind and warm faces of the people who live here.
We dig holes around the edge of the future park and fill them with water to prepare the very hard and dusty soil. More and more curious residents show up and soon have shovels and pick axes in their hands or fill buckets with water from the neighboring properties. It is quite emotional to see how the people come together and take matters into their own hand. The kids start coming out too and we begin collecting the trash, which (like me back in the day) they actually really enjoy doing.
Then it gets to the planting part. And here each resident sort of gets assigned their own tree, that they will then be taking care of. I love this idea of Yuliana, as now they will feel personally responsible and like this park is really their own. That will obviously add tremendously to the chance of this place actually prospering. It is incredible how easy this is and it makes me feel really really happy.
My favorite part is watching Samantha, a little girl of about 7 years, plant one tree after the other. She is so absorbed in the activity and treats the plants with a deeply felt tenderness and care. She wouldn’t even stop for the group picture we take, but instead stay with the little tree she just planted, tenderly padding the wet soil around it.
By the early afternoon I am beat. The heat doesn’t bother any of the people here, as they are used to it and in fact the current 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) don’t even feel hot to them. And I am happy to serve for their amusement, as the European who can’t take it and sits in the shade with a headache constantly drinking water. They tell me what I already know: this heat is nothing compared to what they get in July and August, when temperatures here sore up to around 50 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit). I am just glad I am not here then, as I am obviously really bad a dealing with heat.
Our goodbyes include a lot of hugs, heartfelt and strong handshakes and a bunch of selfies. I am glad to spend the rest of the afternoon in the air conditioned office of Pronatura.